G. Richard Jansen
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
September 2001, Revised February 1, 2003
Table of Contents
A Consideration of Human Nature
The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688
Philosophical and Political Ideas in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Establishing a Constitutional Republic in the United States
The French Revolution
The Evolution of Socialism
The Russian Revolution
Political Ideologies and Descriptive Terms
Genealogies of the Two Major Political Parties in the United States
Cultural and Political Divides
Summary and Conclusions
Glossary of Terms
The United States is the oldest and
the most successful constitutional republic and representative
in the history of the world. Without question we are a people with the
most personal freedom in any country in history with liberty that at
approaches license. This does not mean we do not have order, for order
is a prerequisite for freedom. We live according to the rule of
As will be discussed later in this essay the degree of restriction of
freedom through law and government regulation is a matter of
debate. Nevertheless we are, in the main, a free people.
Such freedom under which we are fortunate to live is relatively recent in origin in the history of the world, and giving due consideration to Greek and Roman antecedents, goes back primarily to the dissolution of feudalism and the “ancien regimes’ in England and France in the 17th and 18th centuries. Such liberty as we are blessed with was not inevitable or a “sure thing”. In fact, it may not have happened at all or things may have developed quite differently. As we enter a new millennium what better time to review the origins of our liberty and how our political system developed in the two and a quarter centuries since our founding.
A Consideration of Human Nature
The Greek Stoics considered that the universe is governed by absolute, or natural, law. People should live their lives according to these laws of the universe and according to their own essential nature, i.e. reason, and not according to the caprice and self-will of the individual. Virtue alone is good, and vice alone is evil. From the root virtue wisdom spring the cardinal virtues of insight, bravery, self-control and justice.
The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament and the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of St. Paul in the New Testament provide the basis for Judeo-Christian morality on which Western Civilization was and is built. Admonitions not to kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet things belonging to others speak eloquently to the essential nature of mankind requiring, according to the Greek Stoics, self-control. Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount instructs us all in virtue by saying that the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful and those pure in heart will inherit the earth not the powerful and the oppressors.
In St. Augustine's view, man’s evil will derived from pride, a craving for "undue exultation". In his words "the corruption of the body which weighs down the soul, is not the cause of the first sin but its punishment. And it was not the corruptible flesh that made the soul sinful; it was the sinful soul that made the flesh corruptible". Augustine quotes from Paul, "The acts of a sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like”.
The biological nature of man has developed over millions of years of evolution, via natural selection. Except for the last six thousand years or so of human existence, it is not likely there were any moral codes governing human behavior, nor was there a rule of law. The selection pressures were for reproductive success in terms of having children and raising them successfully until adulthood and the children’s success in having children and so on. For women this meant taking care of their babies, and for men it meant caring for and protecting their families. In this sense girls needed to grow up to be successful mothers, and boys to be successful fathers. Indeed, women who had a craving to leave the home and join in the hunt with the men were not likely to have been successful in leaving any progeny.
Thomas Hobbes in 1651 suggested that human nature may be reduced to four attributes; bodily strength, experience, reason and passion. In today’s terms, these represent the physical, cognitive and affective or emotional domains of life. He further suggested that the benefits of life before Civil Society would be obtained more easily by aggression and domination than by mutual help. Therefore mankind is drawn to Civil Society by fear and the desire for self-preservation. In his view men in the State of Nature have a natural tendency for aggression and acquisitiveness since many things including women, probably especially women, can neither be enjoyed in common or divided. In contrast to Hobbes, Rousseau considered that original man was healthy, happy, good and free, all in all the noble savage. In his view, human vices didn’t develop until mankind became organized into societies, i.e. civilization.
Adam Smith, in his book The Theory of Moral
Sentiments, considered human nature at some length. He divided
passions into five categories; 1) those that take their origin from the
body, 2) those that take their origin from the imagination, 3)
passions, 4) social passions, and 5) selfish passions. All may
be said to derive from the biological nature of mankind. Passions
taking their origin from the body include the appetitive drives for
and for sexual congress. They both derive from the desire, indeed
requirement for self-survival. Smith pointed out that these
what we now call drives and which we share with the brutes are
not uniquely human. They are, indeed they must be, controlled by
behavior, referred to by Smith as temperance.
of passions derived from imagination are considered by Smith to include
disappointments in love or in ambition. He described the
of romantic love disproportionate in strength to its object of
but nevertheless characterized by humanity, generosity, kindness,
Unsocial passions are those of hate and resentment. Social passions include those listed above; generosity, humanity, kindness, compassion, mutual friendship and esteem. Finally, selfish passions described by Smith are the failure to share another person’s joy because of envy and the failure to be adequately sympathetic to the minor misfortunes of others.
To gain a neurophysiological perspective on human nature,, we turn to the limbic system and the hypothalamus in the brain.. To do this, we need to consider the development of the brain through evolution. Paul MacLean, at the National Institute of Mental Health, has done this in, among other places, his much cited book The Triune Brain in Evolution. He terms the oldest part of the brain reptilian, next oldest the paleo-mammalian limbic system, and from an evolutionary standpoint the newest part of the brain he terms neo-mammalian. It is the latter area that through mammalian evolution has grown progressively larger, reaching its culmination in the neocortex of man where conscious thought resides. Compared to the most primitive mammals, the insectivores, the neocortex in great apes and man is 62 and 196 times as large respectively.
A large number of neurophysiological studies starting with the pioneering studies 60 years ago by Papez at Cornell identified the limbic system including the hippocampal formation and the cingulate gyrus as controlling emotional behavior . The limbic lobe, originally described by Broca in 1878 is connected with sub-cortical structures, particularly the amygdala, midline thalamic nuclei and the hypothalamus . The hypothalamus, besides being central in the regulation of endocrine behavior, is also central along with the limbic system in the regulation of basic drives, namely feeding, fleeing danger, aggression, fighting, reproduction, and self-preservation. The amygdala has been described as the "neuronal hub of emotion" in view of it=s connections with both the hypothalamus and the cerebral cortex, particularly the hippocampus. The involvement of the limbic system in human aggression, described as "destructive aggression that involves inflicting physical damage on persons or property" by Eichelman . This author suggests that such violent behavior is not necessarily part of a mental disease state, but rather may be part of a normal statistical distribution of violent behavior across a population. The higher brain centers in the neocortex of man, where conscious thoughts arise, are able via circuits to the limbic system, especially the hypothalamus and the amygdala, to influence these basic drives, and indeed inhibit them . For example, if cats are decorticated and. the inhibitory centers in the cerebral cortex are severed from the limbic system , a sham rage results which includes lashing of the tail, arching of the back, clawing, attempts to bite and many autonomic reactions associated with anger.
What does this mean for Augustine's and our
understanding of human nature? Augustine never had a course
in neurophysiology, and of course had no knowledge of Darwin's ideas on
the descent of man, or MacLean's ideas about The Triune Brain. He
was, however, a careful observer of human nature, including his
He realized that there was an innate tendency in humans to be
by what he called Athe disease of lust". Although lust when not
defined usually is meant to refer to lust in the sexual sense,
had a much broader understanding even while acknowledging
power of the sexual drive. In the City of God he included the
as diseases of lust; the lust for revenge, money, conquering, i.e.
applause, and ruling, we might say power . Long before it was known
the limbic system provided the circuitry and mechanisms by which the
centers in the neocortex, where conscious thoughts arise, could inhibit
lust, aggression, and indeed those behavior now referred to as the
deadly sins , Augustine realized that these behaviors needed
to be controlled by conscious thoughts, namely the will, as did the
Stoics. But where do those conscious thoughts that control undesirable
social behavior come from? We know they arise in the neocortex of
the brain, but how did they get there? Surely the development of
moral law and ethics in general over thousands of years of recorded
is in large part where they came from, and which provides the moral
for civilized societies.
Civilization is a long and difficult process. The Code of Hammurabi, the Torah and Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Koran and the words of Confucius, Buddha and others have been much involved in the process. However, the "old brain" is still powerful and not always controlled as shown by the human genocides in the 20th century. The holocaust in which six million Jews and millions of others were killed is an example. Rummel, in his book Death by Government concludes that 169 million people have been murdered by the State in the 20th century including 62 million in the USSR, 35 million in Communist China, 21 million in Nazi Germany, and 10 million by the Nationalist government of China prior to 1949. As has been said, civilization is still skin deep, only as deep as the neocortex. The serious adverse effects in the United States of a poorly controlled sexual drive on the family, children, social stability and crime have been well characterized by Moynihan in his much quoted essay as Defining Deviancy Down.
Having considered the basis for an innate
for evil in mankind , or in theological terms, sin, what about the
of goodness? Does man have a natural or innate sense of
a moral sense? The Greek Stoics thought so. It was their
that the world is governed by a rational principle, the logos, from
Roman law derived the concept of natural
Natural law got its fullest expression from St. Thomas
He argued that the natural law derived from divine law, the highest
of which is that we ought to do good and avoid evil. More
James Q. Wilson in his book The Moral Sense , suggested
mankind does indeed possess a moral sense. He suggests that such a
sense would include at a minimum sympathy, fairness, self-control and
Wilson further argues that human societies are organized around kinship
patterns, i.e. families. He observes that children are not
abandoned in large numbers, in most cultures incest is taboo, and
unjustifiable homicide is considered to be wrong. He further
that this "moral sense " must have had adaptive value through
In his book Consilience Edward O. Wilson goes further
He posits that there is no God and that morality does not come from
revelation. Rather he argues that moral precepts and ethics are
material products of the mind that have "increased the survival and
success of those who conformed to the tribal faiths" .
The word "innate" has two meanings; one is inborn or existing from birth, and the other is essential or inherent. This latter meaning can include things acquired though one's culture. It surely is difficult in this case, as in many cases, to dissect the effects of nature or heredity, from nurture, i.e. the influence of culture and at least 5000 years of moral and ethical teaching. For there to be an innate moral sense, in the sense of inborn, one would expect that evolutionary pressure had led to the preferential survival of the progeny of those individuals who had more rather than less of a moral sense, as suggested by both Wilsons to be the case , and also by Mandler in his book Human Nature Explored.
And yet! The question remains; does the "essential nature" of man include a propensity to do good as well as a propensity to do evil? Niebuhr decidedly thought so and posited that the essential nature of man contains two elements. In his book Human Nature he wrote; "to the essential nature of man belong, on the one hand, all his natural endowments and determinations, his physical and social impulses, his sexual and racial differentiations, in his character as a creature embedded in the natural order. On the other hand his essential nature also includes the freedom of his spirit, his transcendence over natural processes and finally his self-transcendence". He continues "The virtues which correspond to the second element in his nature, that is, to the freedom of his spirit, are analogous to the theological virtues of faith, hope and love".
Recent research in animals has shown the importance of hormones, specifically oxytocin, vasopressin and estrogen in mating, pair-bonding (i.e, affiliation) and parenting behaviors . However, the maternal instinct and pair-bonding are a long way from the "love that passeth all human understanding". We know much, as discussed earlier, about the neurophysiological pathways involved in aggression, violence, lust and hate. However, when one searches the scientific literature one finds little about love, in the broad sense used in the gospel and letters of John and by Paul in his letters. An interesting approach to a neurophysiological understanding of love is that of Walter Freeman in his book The Societies of Brains; A Study of the Neuroscience of Love and Hate, in which he predicts that neurochemistry will become increasingly important in understanding societal aspects of human behavior. Freeman, however, is not discussing love and virtues in the sense used by Niebuhr and others. Data are not yet available that confirm that the essential goodness of man is inborn, in contrast to being derived from culture and experience. Perhaps Wright summarized the situation best when, writing from an evolutionary perspective he said; "We are potentially moral animals— which is more than any other animal can say--- but we aren’t naturally moral animals. To be moral animals, we must realize how thoroughly we aren’t”. It is fair to say that one of the roles the great religions in the world has played is to do just that.
And yet, and yet! Why do humans have such a great capacity for love, and why is love so important in the Bible, and in the writings of many philosophers? Can neurophysiology and natural selection really explain the essential truth in what Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago; " If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres"........"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love". Why can art and music make us think there is more to our lives than our animal nature? What are the neurophysiological pathways involved that can so emotionally touch us, bring us to tears of joy and make us feel the presence of God, whatever that presence is, when we listen to Ave Verum by Mozart, Ave Maria by Schubert or the Messiah by Handel. Can all of this ultimately have been derived from a strike of lightning in a primordial mix of methane and ammonia followed by eons of molecular collisions or was a divine spark involved? Of what possible survival value or reproductive advantage could this have been? Because we don't yet understand these things does not mean that there is not a self-transcendence in man that enables him to feel the presence of God.
In their book The Development of Social Cognition, Pryor and Day devote three chapters to moral development . Many factors were evaluated as to their importance in moral development. It is somewhat interesting but perhaps more revealing of the Zeitgeist of our secular society that the thousands of years of moral teaching and the role of religion were not mentioned. More recently, an excellent discussion of moral development in the context of social cognition and personality is that of Walker and Hennig , and the reader is encouraged to read this comprehensive review. Included is a discussion of the classic work of Kohlberg in which moral development is seen to progress through five phases Only the first phase characteristic of children, includes "the dictates of authorities define right and wrong". Walker and Hennig concluded that "Kohlberg paid scant attention to notions of religion, faith and spirituality because of the perceived need to establish the legitimacy of his enterprise and because of the American requirement of an a-religious moral education program" .
Man has an innate will to do evil. A reasonable current perspective on this is the knowledge that the oldest regions of the brain, especially the limbic system including the hypothalamus, control and in fact promote those aspects of self preservation that lead to territoriality, aggression, violence, fighting and lust. These basic drives are very strong. Fortunately, in mankind, they are restrained by inhibitory influences coming from the neocortex that act on the limbic system. These inhibitory influences derive from conscious thoughts that are in turn derived from moral and ethical teachings, the development of law, and civilization. The fact that in our century there have been conservatively over 100 million victims of genocide would suggest strongly that man's capacity to do evil is still mightily present.
Thomas Sowell, in his seminal book Conflict of Visions writes that people in their world view can be divided, if not perfectly then broadly, into having one of two “visions:” unconstrained or constrained, as to many things including the nature of man. In the unconstrained vision, exemplified in Sowell’s mind by William Godwin, the untapped moral potential of human beings is unlimited and only requires correct societal and political arrangements to be realized. In contrast Sowell lists Alexander Hamilton as exemplifying the constrained vision when he wrote “It is the lot of all human institutions, even those of the most perfect kind, to have defects as well as excellencies- ill as well as good propensities. These result from the imperfections of the Institutor, Man.” And Madison observed “if men were angels no government would be necessary.” . These both are expressed views of men who had a constrained view of human nature in Sowell’s sense. This was also true for the others present at the Founding of our Republic who also had a firm and realistic understanding of human nature, and had, in the main, the constrained vision as just described.
The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688
In mediaeval Europe power was located in the Crown and the
Church. Kings ruled by divine right. The renaissance and
reformation weakened the power and authority of the Church.
In England the power of the Crown was lessened when the barons of the
confronted King John at Runnymede in 1215, and forced him the sign the
Magna Carta, or great charter. The king had taxed excessively to
supply funds for foreign wars which threw the barons into
Magna Carta had 61 clauses most of which were concerned withe the
and privileges of the barons. However, several proved to be of
enduring significance. Numbers 38-42 stated the following:
“ In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it”.
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land”.
“To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice. All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too”.
“In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision”.
In addition, the King agreed to the following judicial guarantees; freedom of the church, fair taxation, and controls over imprisonment, i.e. habeas corpus. Finally King John agreed to the following:
“ The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time
will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
If-one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.
In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling
or unable to appear.
The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power”.
This Baronial Council evolved slowly of the
centuries to become the English Parliament of today, referred to as the
‘mother of all parliaments”, since it was the first. However, when
I summoned Parliament in 1640 he still ruled as an autocrat by divine
Also, as was the case for King John 400 years earlier he was in
need for money which required the assent of Parliament. This
lasted until 1653 becoming known as the “Long Parliament”. Reform
was in the air, both reform of government and reform of the church
since Henry VIII was the Church of England. Contention
the King and Parliament worsened, complicated by the Catholic question
in Ireland and peace negotiations with Scotland. Parliament was
suspicious of the King and passed the “Grand Remonstrance”, a brief
grievances against the King by a mere eleven votes thus dividing
in a most serious and as events turned out fatal way. Parliament
put the army under the control of Parliament and, as the situation got
worse the King sent his family to France and left the capital
Parliament challenged the King with the “Nineteen Propositions”
the King rejected. The two English Civil Wars commenced in 1642
in the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the Commonwealth
in 1648 with Cromwell as the first Chairman of State. He later,
the Protectorate, became the Lord Protector of the realm..
This is not the place to attempt an evaluation of Cromwell. There is no question he was dictatorial, but in his at least partial defense he lived in very unsettled time where order was needed and it is not clear, after a Civil War whether or not order could have been restored by the universal voting franchise and democracy. We are not in a position to judge. Suffice it to say he believed strongly in religious toleration of dissenters but not of Catholics, he is credited with making England great again and he helped eliminate the royal absolutism of Charles I. A strong political movement during the Commonwealth and Protectorate by a group known as the Levelers resulted in an expansion of the voting franchise to copyholders in addition to freeholders, but not to servants and paupers.
English history between the restoration of the
in 1660 with the accession of Charles II to the throne and the
of 1688 was affected in large measure by the religious question; must
King or Queen of England be Protestant or may he or she be
In spite of the restoration of the monarchy, the so-called Cavalier
reasserted the prerogatives of Parliament. This included strict
orthodoxy and a restoration of the bishops to the house of
The Kings authority over the church and religious conformity throughout
the kingdom were imposed. On Charles’ death James II, a Catholic,
became King. Although he agreed to ironclad guarantees for the
of the Anglican Church, in 1687 he reissued the Declaration of
which suspended penal laws against Catholics and dissenters. This
was done at a particularly inauspicious time since Louis XIV of France
had just suspended the Edict of Nantes and commenced an extensive and
persecution of the Huguenots, i.e. the French Protestants. Because of
alleged popish plot there were great fears in Parliament and the
about a restoration of the Catholic to replace the Anglican
Seven bishops refused to read the Declaration of Indulgence in church
the King. In addition, James’ wife Mary had a son which, by
of succession would result in another Catholic King and a restoration
the Catholic Church. In the meantime the Mary, the daughter of
and Mary, for reasons of State had been married to William of Orange,
Parliament connived with William, and William invaded England with a
army and King James fled to France. Parliament made William and Mary
and Queen and established that henceforth the King or Queen must be
Parliament established the following Bill of Rights which William informally assented to;
That the pretended power of suspending
laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of
parliament, is illegal.
That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the executions of laws, by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal.
That the commission for erecting the late court of commissioners for ecclesiastical
causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature are illegal and pernicious.
That levying money for or to the use of the crown, by pretense of prerogative, without
grant of parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal.
That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.
That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it
be with consent of parliament, is against law.
That the subjects which are Protestants, may have arms for their defense suitable to their
conditions, and as allowed by law.
That election of members of parliament ought to be free.
That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be
impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.
That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and
unusual punishments inflicted.
That jurors ought to be duly impaneled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in
trials of high treason ought to be freeholders.
That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before
conviction, are illegal and void.
And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving
of the laws, parliaments ought to be held frequently.
These rights, although limited in scope, made the English, and the American colonists as Englishmen, the freest people in the world. American colonists saw these rights as their birthright. As we will see, these rights were greatly extended by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Philosophical and Political Ideas in the 17th and 18th Centuries
The literal explosion of political and philosophical ideas in the 17th and 18th centuries is referred to as the Enlightenment. The English and Scottish enlightenments, especially the ideas of John Locke and Adam Smith, were important influences on the American Revolution. The ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau, and the rest of the French philosophe’s had more influence on the French Revolution.
The influence of Locke on Jefferson can readily be seen by comparing what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence with what John Locke had written in chapter VIII of his 2nd Treatise on Government;
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
" Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the liberty of the state of nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest”.
John Locke was born in Somerset England in 1632. He was granted a fellowship to Christ College, Oxford in 1658 and elected to the Royal Society in 1658. His Essay on Human Understanding is one of the classics of Western philosophy. He wrote widely on economics, theology, religious toleration and theology, education and government. His Second Treatise on Government was published in 1690, shortly after the Revolution of 1688.
Locke starts his Treatise as did Hobbes with humans in the state of nature. However he considers the initial situation differently than did Hobbes. In Locke’s view humans initially were in a state of perfect equality with all power and authority equally distributed, and peace and mankind’s existence preserved by the laws of nature. However to keep the peace “every man hath a right to punish the offender and be executioner of the law of nature”. Locke quickly acknowledges, however, that it is not realistic for every man to be his own judge because of self-interest. Therefore civil government is the remedy. He recognizes that without government and authority a state of war results, as did Hobbes, and therefor a society is needed to provide the necessary authority to keep the peace. As stated above, the consent of those to be so governed is required for this to occur lawfully.
In addition to the right to life and liberty, Locke puts heavy emphasis on the right to property, i.e. ownership. Chapter V of the Second Treatise is devoted entirely to how this right to the ownership of property is derived from the labor an individual puts into an object that previously was un-owned and held in common. Sections 40-50 of chapter V make it so clear why the right to private property is so important and beneficial to civil society that they deserve to be quoted in their entirety:
“Sec. 40. Nor is it so strange, as perhaps before
it may appear, that the property of labour should be able to
the community of land: for it is labour indeed that puts the
of value on every thing; and let any one consider what the difference
between an acre of land planted with tobacco or sugar, sown with wheat
or barley, and an acre of the same land lying in common, without any
upon it, and he will find, that the improvement of labour makes the far
greater part of the value. I think it will be but a very modest
to say, that of the products of the earth useful to the life of man
tenths are the effects of labour: nay, if we will rightly estimate
as they come to our use, and cast up the several expenses about them,
in them is purely owing to nature, and what to labour, we shall find,
in most of them ninety-nine hundredths are wholly to be put on
account of labour.
Sec. 41. There cannot be a clearer demonstration of any thing, than several nations of the Americans are of this, who are rich in land, and poor in all the comforts of life; whom nature having furnished as liberally as any other people, with the materials of plenty, i.e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce in abundance, what might serve for food, raiment, and delight; yet for want of improving it by labour, have not one hundredth part of the conveniencies we enjoy: and a king of a large and fruitful territory there, feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a day-labourer in England.
Sec. 42. To make this a little clearer, let us but trace some of the ordinary provisions of
life, through their several progresses, before they come to our use, and see how much they receive of their value from human industry. Bread, wine and cloth, are things of daily use, and great plenty; yet notwithstanding, acorns, water and leaves, or skins, must be our bread, drink and clothing, did not labour furnish us with these more useful commodities: for whatever bread is more worth than acorns, wine than water, and cloth or silk, than leaves, skins or moss, that is wholly owing to labour and industry; the one of these being the food and raiment which unassisted nature furnishes us with; the other, provisions which our industry and pains prepare for us, which how much they exceed the other in value, when any one hath computed, he will then see how much labour makes the far greatest part of the value of things we enjoy in this world: and the ground which produces the materials, is scarce to be reckoned in, as any, or at most, but a very small part of it; so little, that even amongst us, land that is left wholly to nature, that hath no improvement of pasturage, tillage, or planting, is called, as indeed it is, waste; and we shall find the benefit of it amount to little more than nothing. This shews how much numbers of men are to be preferred to largeness of dominions; and that the increase of lands, and the right employing of them, is the great art of government: and that prince, who shall be so wise and godlike, as by established laws of liberty to secure protection and encouragement to the honest industry of mankind, against the oppression of power and narrowness of party, will quickly be too hard for his neighbours: but this by the by. To return to the argument in hand,
Sec. 43. An acre of land, that bears here twenty bushels of wheat, and another in America, which, with the same husbandry, would do the like, are, without doubt, of the same natural intrinsic value: but yet the benefit mankind receives from the one in a year, is worth 5 pounds. and from the other possibly not worth a penny, if all the profit an Indian received from it were to be valued, and sold here; at least, I may truly say, not one thousandth. It is labour then which puts the greatest part of value upon land, without which it would scarcely be worth any thing: it is to that we owe the greatest part of all its useful products; for all that the straw, bran, bread, of that acre of wheat, is more worth than the product of an acre of as good land, which lies waste, is all the effect of labour: for it is not barely the plough-man's pains, the reaper's and thresher's toil, and the baker's sweat, is to be counted into the bread we eat; the labour of those who broke the oxen, who digged and wrought the iron and stones, who felled and framed the timber employed about the plough, mill, oven, or any other utensils, which are a vast number, requisite to this corn, from its being feed to be sown to its being made bread, must all be charged on the account of labour, and received as an effect of that: nature and the earth furnished only the almost worthless materials, as in themselves. It would be a strange catalogue of things, that industry provided and made use of, about every loaf of bread, before it came to our use, if we could trace them; iron, wood, leather, bark, timber, stone, bricks, coals, lime, cloth, dying drugs, pitch, tar, masts, ropes, and all the materials made use of in the ship, that brought any of the commodities made use of by any of the workmen, to any part of the work; all which it would be almost impossible, at least too long, to reckon up.
Sec. 44. From all which it is evident, that though the things of nature are given in cmmon, yet man, by being master of himself, and proprietor of his own person, and the actions or labour of it, had still in himself the great foundation of property; and that, which made up the great part of what he applied to the support or comfort of his being, when invention and arts had improved the conveniencies of life, was perfectly his own, and did not belong in common to others.
Sec. 45. Thus labour, in the beginning, gave a right of property, wherever any one was pleased to employ it upon what was common, which remained a long while the far greater part, and is yet more than mankind makes use of. Men, at first, for the most part, contented themselves with what unassisted nature offered to their necessities: and though afterwards, in some parts of the world, (where the increase of people and stock, with the use of money, had made land scarce, and so of some value) the several communities settled the bounds of their distinct territories, and by laws within themselves regulated the properties of the private men of their society, and so, by compact and agreement, settled the property which labour and industry began; and the leagues that have been made between several states and kingdoms, either expressly or tacitly disowning all claim and right to the land in the others possession, have, by common consent, given up their pretenses to their natural common right, which originally they had to those countries, and so have, by positive agreement, settled a property amongst themselves, in distinct parts and parcels of the earth; yet there are still great tracts of ground to be found, which (the inhabitants thereof not having joined with the rest of mankind, in the consent of the use of their common money) lie waste, and are more than the people who dwell on it do, or can make use of, and so still lie in common; tho' this can scarce happen amongst that part of mankind that have consented to the use of money.
Sec. 46. The greatest part of things really useful to the life of man, and such as the necessity of subsisting made the first commoners of the world look after, as it cloth the Americans now, are generally things of short duration; such as, if they are not consumed by use, will decay and perish of themselves: gold, silver and diamonds, are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more than real use, and the necessary support of life. Now of those good things which nature hath provided in common, every one had a right (as hath been said) to as much as he could use, and property in all that he could effect with his labour; all that his industry could extend to, to alter from the state nature had put it in, was his. He that gathered a hundred bushels of acorns or apples, had thereby a property in them, they were his goods as soon as gathered. He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. If he gave away a part to any body else, so that it perished not uselessly in his possession, these he also made use of. And if he also bartered away plums, that would have rotted in a week, for nuts that would last good for his eating a whole year, he did no injury; he wasted not the common stock; destroyed no part of the portion of goods that belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselessly in his hands. Again, if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its color; or exchange his sheep for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by him all his life he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up as much of these durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of his possession, but the perishing of any thing uselessly in it.
Sec. 47. And thus came in the use of money, some lasting thing that men might keep without spoiling, and that by mutual consent men would take in exchange for the truly useful, but perishable supports of life.
Sec. 48. And as different degrees of industry were apt to give men possessions in different proportions, so this invention of money gave them the opportunity to continue and enlarge
them: for supposing an island, separate from all possible commerce with the rest of the world, wherein there were but an hundred families, but there were sheep, horses and cows, with other useful animals, wholesome fruits, and land enough for corn for a hundred thousand times as many, but nothing in the island, either because of its commonness, or perishableness, fit to supply the place of money; what reason could any one have there to enlarge his possessions beyond the use of his family, and a plentiful supply to its consumption, either in what their own industry produced, or they could barter for like perishable, useful commodities, with others? Where there is not some thing, both lasting and scarce, and so valuable to be hoarded up, there men will not be apt to enlarge their possessions of land, were it never so rich, never so free for them to take: for I ask, what would a man value ten thousand, or an hundred thousand acres of excellent land, ready cultivated, and well stocked too with cattle, in the middle of the inland parts of America, where he had no hopes of commerce with other parts of the world, to draw money to him by the sale of the product? It would not be worth the enclosing, and we should see him give up again to the wild common of nature, whatever was more than would supply the conveniencies of life to be had there for him and his family.
Sec. 49. Thus in the beginning all the world was America, and more so than that is now; for no such thing as money was any where known. Find out something that hath the use and value of money amongst his neighbours, you shall see the same man will begin presently to enlarge his possessions.
Sec. 50. But since gold and silver, being little useful to the life of man in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has its value only from the consent of men, whereof labour yet makes, in great part, the measure, it is plain, that men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth, they having, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found out, a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of, by receiving in exchange for the overplus gold and silver, which may be hoarded up without injury to any one; these metals not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the possessor. This partage of things in an inequality of private possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of society, and without compact, only by putting a value on gold and silver, and tacitly agreeing in the use of money: for in governments, the laws regulate the right of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions”.
David Hume, born in 1711, was a Scottish philosopher 12 years younger than Adam Smith and who died in 1776, the very year Wealth of Nations was published. Hume’s most important role in the Enlightenment was to further weaken the hold of revealed religion, i.e. the church, on society and government. He concluded in his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals that sympathy is the attribute of human nature that is the basis of all social life and personal happiness. Moral beliefs are based on ‘feelings, not knowings”. In his view “it is human nature to laugh with the laughing and grieve with the grieved and to seek the good of others as well as our own”. He was a firm believer in the importance of altruism.
Adam Smith, a Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University, wrote two books that are acknowledged to be classics today. His The Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1759, was discussed earlier in this essay. His most famous book is his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Smith described four stages in the evolution of human societies. hunters, nomatic agriculture, feudalism and commercial interdependence. In the Wealth of Nations he answered the question as to how and orderly and productive society can develop in the face of the selfish and social passions of men. The answer is competition. The passionate desire to better one’s condition, in his words “a desire that comes with us from the womb and never leaves us until we go into the grave” will result in the public good as individuals compete with one another for goods as well as public approbation. It is through competition that the unintended “invisible hand’ comes into play and guides the economy.
Smith wrote passionately against mercantilism, monopoly, protectionism, and for free unimpeded trade. In contrast to some earlier economists Smith was interested in promoting economic growth, not maintaining the status quo. Growth comes from, among other things, increased efficiency of production resulting from the division of labor. This enables the manufacturer to accumulate capital or in Smith’s term stock, which then enables him to invest in machinery and the tools of the trade further enabling him to hire more labor. As shown by the experience of Spain and Portugal wealth does not come from the accumulation of gold and silver but from the productive activity of the population. Adam Smith was by no means naive about monopolistic and other exploitative business practices and he warned against “the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers who neither are, nor ought to be the rulers of mankind”. He owed much to the earlier French Physiocrats and the doctrine of laissez-faire, but was as passionately opposed to business monopoly as to excessive government regulation.
The ideas of Voltaire and Rousseau will be considered in the context of the French Revolution. However, the ideas of another Frenchman were very important to the founding fathers of the United States. This was Charles-Loius de Secondat, baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu.. He had written on the English Constitution which he was known to have admired. However his last work L’Esprit des Lois ( The Spirit of Laws) published in1750 was his masterpiece and is acknowledged to be one of the greatest works on political theory and jurisprudence He did not divide government into monarchy, aristocracy and democracy as Cicero had done in ancient Rome. Rather he developed the “theory of separation of powers” by dividing political power into legislative, executive and judicial powers. His model of such a state was the England of his day. The separation of powers in the United States is part of the foundation on which our liberty rests.
The Great Awakening
Many factors were involved as a spirit of
developed in the American Colonies prior to the Declaration of
The Great Awakening is generally considered to have been one of them
was not of inconsiderable importance. This religious revival tok
place as an explosion of piety, faith and religious sentiment that
in the early to middle of the 18th century.
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries church membership and religious sentiment were at a low ebb in the colonies. Paradoxically, in spite of this there was little inclination to rebel against the Crown coupled with a belief that rebellion against the King was tantamount to rebellion against God. However, one of the earliest voices for rebellion, Jonathan Mayhew, forcefully argued that abuse of the people by the sovereign was, in fact, against the will of God. He also reminded the Puritans in NewEngland that in the English Civil War English Puritans had challenged the Divine Right of Kings and had indeed rebelled againstKing Charles. They had argued that, in some cases, the voice of the people can become the voice of God.
The awakening of religious fervor started in New Jersey where a Dutch Reformed (i.e. Calvinist) minister, Theodore Frelinghuysen, preached powerful sermons based on Pietism andsubjective and emotional feelings on the importance of God’s word rather than sermons based on cold objective doctrinal theology. In New England the great preacher Jonathan Edwards preached revivalist sermons emphasizing the importance of personal salvation based on living a Good life according to God’s word. George Whitefield, part of the Methodist holiness movement who had split with John Wesley over the nature of grace and predestination came to New England in 1740 and was a powerful and inspiring preacher also emphasizing personal salvation and who caused many to turn to Christ and Christian teaching.
From a political standpoint the religious awakening elevated the importance of the individual, i.e. the common man, and broke down the importance of rank and social status. Also hastened by the awakening was sentiment against established churches, such as the Anglican Church in the South and the Congregational church in New England. In contrast the position of the dissenting churches such as the Baptists, Presbyterian, and other evangelical churches, especially Methodist was strengthened. For example the number of Methodist churches in the Colonies increased from 20 in 1770, just prior to the revolution to 712 in 1790 just after the ratification of the Constitution. During this time Baptist churches increased from 150 to 858 , Presbyterian churches from 500 to 725 while Anglican/Episcopal churches declined from 356 to 170.
When the revolution came it was generally opposed by the Anglican Church and supported by the Baptists, Presbyterians and evangelicals including the Methodists. John Wesley, founder of Methodism in England advised the American Methodists to not support the revolution, but they politely told him to mind his affairs in England and they would mind theirs in America.
Establishing a Constitutional Republic in the United States
It will be useful to review the fundamental roots of our
governance, especially the Declaration of Independence and the
The Declaration stated, in part: “We hold these truths to be
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
consent of the governed.” The preamble to
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Thus, “all men are created equal,” with the right to “liberty,” which the Constitution is designed to provide to its citizens, along with a republican form of government.
Where did these ideas come from? They came, among other sources, from John Locke and the English Revolution, Adam Smith, David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment , and the French philosophes’ Voltaire and Rousseau among others. These ideas were in the very air our Founders were breathing at the time. In addition men like Adams, Jefferson and other of the patriots read Greek and Latin and were familiar with Greek and Roman history and the writings of Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. They were, for the most part, very well educated men.
The men who assembled in Philadelphia in May 1787
for the most part knew they wanted to replace the Articles of
with something much better. They wanted a republican form of
specifically a Republic in the form of a representative but not a
democracy. They were well aware that the various States varied
in size, population, wealth, commerce, economic power among other
The Articles of Confederation gave each State one vote in Congress
of these differences. They knew this wasn’t working very well but
they also knew that a system that put the smaller state at a large
would not work well either.
Preliminary organizational activities took place on May 25th, at which time George Washington was elected unanimously to be the President of the Convention. The main business of the convention was opened on May 29th by Edmund Randolph of Virginia. After enumerating the defects of the Articles of Confederation, he introduced 15 resolutions, which became known as “The Virginia Plan”:
1. Resolved that the articles of Confederation ought to be so corrected & enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution; namely. "common defence, security of liberty and general welfare."
2. Resd. therefore that the rights of suffrage in the National Legislature ought to be proportioned to the Quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other rule may seem best in different cases.
3. Resd. that the National Legislature ought to consist of two branches.
4. Resd. that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States ... every for the term of ... ; to be of the age of ... years at least, to receive liberal stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, except those beculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch, during the term of service, and for the space of ... after its expiration; to be incapable of re-election for the space of ... after the expiration of their term of service, and to be subject to recall.
5. Resold. that the members of the second branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual Legislatures, to be of the age of ... years at least; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to ensure their independency, to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service; and to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch, during the term of service, and for the space of after the expiration thereof.
6. Resolved that each branch ought to possess the right of originating Acts; that the National Legislature ought to be impowered to enjoy the Legislative Rights vested in Congress by the Confederation & moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual Legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the articles of Union; and to call forth the force of the Union agst. any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof.
7. Resd. that a National Executive be instituted; to be chosen by the National Legislature for the term of years, to receive punctually at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the Magistracy, existing at the time of increase or diminution, and to be ineligible a second time; and that besides a general authority to execute the National laws, it ought to enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.
8. Resd. that the Executive and a convenient number of the National Judiciary, ought to compose a council of revision with authority to examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate, & every act of a particular Legislature before a Negative thereon shall be final; and that the dissent of the said Council shall amount to a rejection, unless the Act of the National Legislature be again passed, or that of a particular Legislature be again negatived by ... of the members of each branch.
9. Resd. that a National Judiciary be established to consist of one or more supreme tribunals, and of inferior tribunals to be chosen by the National Legislature, to hold their offices during good behaviour; and to receive punctually at stated times fixed compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution. that the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals shall be to hear & determine in the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine in the dernier resort, all piracies & felonies on the high seas, captures from an enemy; cases in which foreigners or citizens of other States applying to such jurisdictions may be interested, or which respect the collection of the National revenue; impeachments of any National officers, and questions which may involve the national peace and harmony.
10. Resolvd. that provision ought to be made for the admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of Government & Territory or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the National legislature less than the whole.
11. Resd. that a Republican Government & the territory of each State, except in the instance of a voluntary junction of Government & territory, ought to be guaranteed by the United States to each State
12. Resd. that provision ought to be made for the continuance of Congress and their authorities and privileges, until a given day after the reform of the articles of Union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.
13. Resd. that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articles of Union whensoever it shall seem necessary, and that the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required thereto.
14. Resd. that the Legislative Executive & Judiciary powers within the several States ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of Union
15. Resd. that the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation, by the Convention ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of Congress to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives, recommended by the several Legislatures to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider & decide thereon.
Randolph concluded with an exhortation, not to suffer the present opportunity of establishing general peace, harmony, happiness and liberty in the U.S. to pass away unimproved.
These resolutions focused the discussions on the
major issues involved, to wit to correct the weaknesses of the Articles
of Confederation as just enumerated by providing for a true union not a
mere confederation. The central government needed to be greatly
while allowing for considerable self-government for the states, thus
in a federal union.
The founding fathers were well familiar with the concept of representative government, specifically the British Parliament with its two branches. The Randolph plan was not far removed from what was finally agreed to. The Constitution as approved provided for a national legislature to be known as the Congress with two branches; 1)a House of Representatives elected directly by the people with membership proportional to population and 2) a Senate elected by the State legislatures with each state, large or small entitled to two senators. This provision was designed to prevent a majority in states with large populations from overwhelming the rights of minorities and also to balance out sectional, geographical and cultural differences among the several states.
The biggest change from the British to the new American system was establishing a republic with an elected national executive instead of a King. The following focuses on those discussions and votes that led to the procedure to elect the President of the United States. Also, for clarity and accuracy direct quotations from founding documents are used when appropriate.
The following discussion of the Constitutional Convention is taken directly from James Madison’s notes taken during the Convention. It focuses on those discussions and votes that lead to the procedure to elect the President of the United States. Also, for clarity and accuracy direct quotations from founding documents are used when appropriate.
In this connection, resolution number 7 is of relevance.
7. “Resd. that a National Executive be instituted; to be chosen by the National Legislature for the term of years, to receive punctually at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made so as to affect the Magistracy, existing at the time of increase or diminution, and to be ineligible a second time; and that besides a general authority to execute the National laws, it ought to enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.”
On June 1st, resolution 7 was taken up by the convention. James Wilson of Pennsylvania proposed that the National Executive be a single person, but a decision on this as well as on the mode of selection was postponed.. On June 2nd Wilson made the following motion, to be substituted for the mode of election proposed by Mr. Randolph's resolution: "that the Executive Magistracy shall be elected in the following manner: That; the States be divided into districts: & that the persons qualified to vote in each district for members of the first branch of the national Legislature elect members for their respective districts to be electors of the Executive magistracy, that the said Electors of the Executive magistracy meet at and they or any of them so met shall proceed to elect by ballot, but not out of their own body person in whom the Executive authority of the national Government shall be vested."
As it later turned out, this was close to what was agreed to two months later, but at this time and after discussion this motion was defeated by a 2-8 vote with only Pennsylvania and Maryland voting in the affirmative. This was followed immediately by a vote in which electing the National Executive by the National Legislature was affirmed by an 8-2 vote with, again, Pennsylvania and Maryland casting the only negative votes. The proposal that the National Executive be a single person was again proposed, this time by John Rutlidge and Charles Pinckney, but was vigorously opposed by Randolph. The issue of a single National Executive was taken up again on June 4th at which time it was agreed to by a 7-3 vote, being opposed only by New York, Maryland and Delaware (Virginia divided in favor of the motion). The method of electing the National Executive was returned to on June 9th when a proposal was made but unanimously rejected that the National Executive be elected by the Executives of the various States.
On June 13th, the Report of the Committee of whole (i.e. the entire Convention )included the following as number 9 of 19 resolutions; “Resolved that a National Executive be instituted to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the Natl. Legislature for the term of seven years, with power to carry into execution the national laws, to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for--to be ineligible a second time, & to be removeable on impeachment and conviction of malpractices or neglect of duty--to receive a fixed stipend by which he may be compensated for the devotion of his time to public service to be paid out of the national Treasury.”
The Convention did not consider resolution 9 until a month later, on July 17th. At this time Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania moved that “National Legislature” be replaced in the resolution by “citizens of the U.S”. Considerable discussion ensued but the motion failed on a 9-1 vote with only Pennsylvania voting in the affirmative. At this time the proposal that the National Executive be elected by the State Legislature was voted down by a 1-9 vote and the resolution to elect by the national Legislature was again re-affirmed this time unanimously.
Although unanimous, this vote hid real concerns
came to the surface when the issue of reappointment of the National
came up. These were stated eloquently by Madison: “If it be
essential to the preservation of liberty that the Legisl: Execut: &
Judiciary powers be separate, it is essential to a maintenance of
the separation, that they should be independent of each other. The
could not be independent of the Legislature, if dependent on the
of that branch for a re-appointment. Why was it determined that the
should not hold their places by such a tenure? Because they might be
to cultivate the Legislature, by an undue complaisance, and thus render
the Legislature the virtual expositor, as well the maker of the laws.
like manner a dependence of the Executive on the Legislature, would
it the Executor as well as the maker of laws; & then according to
observation of Montesquieu, tyrannical laws may be made that they may
executed in a tyrannical manner.”
These discussions continued through July 19th. There was a general sense that re-appointing the Executive made sense but not if by the Legislature. This resulted in a revisiting of the whole issue of how to elect the National Executive. After considerable discussion it was agreed by an 8-2 vote that the National Executive be elected by Electors appointed by the State Legislatures. There was no agreement on the ratio of Electors from the various States, but it was agreed that the Electors could not be members of the national Legislature, nor be officers of the U.S., nor could they be eligible to become the “supreme magistracy.”
On Monday August 6th, the report of the Committee on Detail was presented to the Convention by John Rutlidge. This was a first Draft of the Constitution . For our purposes here, only article X, section1 is relevant:
Sect. 1. The Executive Power of the United States shall be vested in a single person. His stile shall be "The President of the United States of America;" and his title shall be, "His Excellency". He shall be elected by ballot by the Legislature. He shall hold his office during the term of seven years; but shall not be elected a second time.
This left a number of important details still to be worked out. On August 24th it was again moved , this time by Danl Carroll of Maryland to replace “by the Legislature” with “by the people.” His motion went down by an 9-2 vote with even Maryland as a State voting against it. Gouv Morris moved that the Electors be chosen by the people in the various States. This failed by a narrow 5-6 votes. On August 31st “on motion of Mr. Sherman it was agreed “to refer such parts of the Constitution as have been postponed, and such parts of Reports as have not been acted on, to a Committee of a member from each State”; what became known as the Committee of Eleven. On September 4th, David Brearly of New Jersey presented the report of this Committee to the Convention. This report recommended the following in regard to the national Executive :
“He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and together with the vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected in the following manner, viz. Each State shall appoint in such manner as its Legislature may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, to which the State may be entitled in the Legislature. The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; and they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each, which list they shall sign and certify and transmit sealed to the Seat of the. Genl. Government, directed to the President of the Senate -- The President of the Senate shall in that House open all the certificates; and the votes shall be then & there counted. The Person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of that of the electors; and if there be more than one who have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the Senate shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President: but if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list, the Senate shall choose by ballot the President. And in every case after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes shall be vice-president: but if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them the vice-President. The Legislature may determine the time of choosing and assembling the Electors, and the manner of certifying and transmitting their votes.”
There was considerable discussion and many votes taken in regard to this report. Rutlidge tried to postpone discussion of the report but was defeated 2-8 on his motion. On September 6th this procedure to elect the President was approved as slightly amended and except for a few final changes such as opening the ballots in the presence of both Houses of Congress instead of only the Senate is as it stands today in the Constitution (except, of course as modified by the XII amendment).
The record is clear that the direct election of the President by popular vote, although brought up several times, never was supported by more than two States. The only time that votes by the people in electing the President received significant support was the motion to have presidential Electors chosen “by the people of the several States”. This is philosophically close to what we now do, but more about that later.
From the very beginning of the convention until near the end the natural inclination of those present was to have the National Executive elected by the National Legislature. This is understandable and derives from the English parliamentary system they were well familiar with. Their intent was to establish a Republic. A Republic, as defined by Madison in Federalist 39 is:
“a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior,” in other words a representative form of government without a King. In England, the Head of State is the King, but the head of Government is the Prime Minister. The Founders were planning a National Executive that would be both.
The decision to have the President elected by Electors in each State appointed “as its Legislature might direct” was a creative way to reduce but not eliminate the advantage a larger population, and indeed a larger economy would give to the larger States. At the same time it corrected the existing situation under the Articles of Confederation where each State, regardless of size, had one vote in the Congress.
The definitive rejection of the election of the President by popular vote was based, however, on more than the large State-small State issue. In essence, it was based on a understandable distrust of a direct or pure democracy, based on their experience and knowledge of history. This concern was stated very clearly during the debates on July 17th by Charles Pinckney who said on July 17th : “An Election by the people being liable to the most obvious & striking objections. They will be led by a few active & designing men. The most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will be able to carry their points.” .
We also have some of Madison’s own words on this issue. In Federalist 10 he discusses his now well known concerns about “domestic faction.” He recognized that although all are equal before the law: “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.”
Then later in the same article “From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. 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. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.”
In Federalist 63 Madison said the following: “As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.”
In a letter to General Washington dated January 28, 1788 Madison expressed his concern that distrust of men of property or education was having an adverse effect in the States on ratifying the constitution. To Jefferson he wrote on February 19, 1788 that although Massachusetts had ratified by a narrow 187-168 margin “the opposition was comprised primarily men sympathetic to Shay’s rebellion, as well as other ignorant and jealous men.” Later, again to General Washington Madison wrote, in response to New Hampshire failing to adopt the constitution,“The opposition, I understand, is composed precisely of the same description of characters with that of Massachusetts, and stands contrasted to all the wealth, abilities and respectability of the State.” In a letter to John Adams dated October 28, 1813 Jefferson wrote “For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds for this are virtue and talents.”
Informed citizens in the Colonies and then the newly formed United States of America were familiar with the English Bill of Rights and many felt that a Bill of Rights should be part of the Constitution. This was strongly not agreed to at the Convention with Madison and others successfully arguing that such rights were already embedded in the Constitution and enumerating rights might give rise to the opinion that rights not so enumerated were not in existence. However, the demand for a Bill of Rights became very strong and Madison and others had to agree to add a Bill of Rights as amendments to the constitution in order to get it ratified. With leadership by Madison this was accomplished in the first Congress as the first ten amendments to the Constitution..
The 1789 Revolution in France was one of the seminal events in history that contributed to the demise of feudalism and the rise of republicanism and democracy. As was the case for the English Civil War, the circumstance that precipitated the French Revolution, which was inevitable in any case, was the need King Louis XVI had for additional revenue. France had huge war debts as a result of the war with England, accentuated by the financial and military support, especially naval, of the American colonists in their revolt from England. Structurally, feudalism was on its last legs. King Louis XIV, the Sun King, had centralized power in Paris. He had taken away power from the aristocracy throughout France, but had not removed privileges from the nobility. This infuriated the rising merchant classes, the bourgeoisie, and also the peasants. The bourgeoisie was expanding and gaining in wealth and influence but was excluded from political power.
The French philosophes, especially Voltaire and Rousseau, were very influential in the world of ideas known to us as the French Enlightenment. Voltaire admired, as did Montesquieu, the English Constitution of 1688. In his philosophical dictionary of 1764 Voltaire wrote the following; "The English constitution has in fact arrived at that point of excellence, in consequence of which every man is restored to those natural rights, which, in nearly all monarchies, they are deprived of.... And, in truth, invaluable privileges they are in comparison with the usages of most other nations of the world! To be secure on lying down that you shall rise in possession of the same property with which you retired to rest; that you shall not be torn from the arms of your wife, and from your children, in the dead of night, to be thrown into a dungeon or buried in exile in a desert; that, when rising from the bed of sleep, you will have the power of publishing all your thoughts; and that, if you are accused of having either acted, spoken, or written wrongly, you can be tried only according to law...”
In France, at the time of the revolution and for centuries before that the Catholic Church was very powerful, owned much land and indeed was very wealthy. As a result along with the enlightenment itself, Voltaire and other French philosophes were strongly anti-clerical to the point of atheism itself. This gave the French Revolution a direction toward atheism and the exultation of human reason quite different from that of the American or English revolutions. Rousseau exulted feelings over reason. He opposed inequality and favored liberty. He separated inequalities into those due to nature, i.e. physical strength and intelligence, and artificial inequality, those due to the rules and conventions of civilization. In contrast to Hobbes he considered “original man” to have be healthy, happy, good and free, all in all a noble savage. Human vices didn’t develop until mankind became organized into societies, i.e. civilization. In contrast to Voltaire he opposed private property as causing and contributing to inequality. Rousseau developed and refined the concept of the “social contract” and the “general will”. Unfortunately there is no “general will” except as defined by those in or aspiring to power. The “general will” as interpreted by Robespierre and others during the reign of terror of the French Revolution and by Lenin and fellow Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution led directly to dictatorship and totalitarianism.
In February 1787 the Controller General of France called a meeting of “notables”, primarily the most influential and best connected of the nobility along with some senior clergy to deal with the financial crisis. The nobility did not want to pay more taxes and asked that the Estates-General be summoned, which had not been called since 1614. The Estates-General consisted of the clergy, the nobility and the Third Estate, basically what had become known as the bourgeoisie. By tradition, each group met separately and each group had one vote. The Estates General met in Versailles May 5, 1789, a fateful year as things turned out. The Third Estate rebelled against the voting rules which shut them out of power they felt was theirs because of their greater numbers. After considerable contention the Third Estate was shut out of the meeting hall. It met in a tennis court, invited members of the other estates to join them and took what is now remembered as the tennis court oath to not disperse until France had a new and more democratic constitution. They were in fact joined by some of the other two estates and formed a Constituent Assembly which the King was forced to recognize and acknowledge.
On July 14 a Parisian seized the Bastille prison, a symbol to the populace of oppression even though at the time it only housed a handful of prisoners. This day has been celebrated in France ever since as Bastille Day. This was followed in July by peasant uprisings throughout rural France. On August 12, the Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism in its entirety. On August 26, after several weeks debate the Assembly passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Written by the Marquis de Lafayette with help from Thomas Jefferson it had the following provisions:
The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all. Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:
1 Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
2 The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction
except that of their virtues and talents.
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.
9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.
13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.
14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.
In October 1789 the King was forced to leave Versailles and took up residence in the abandoned palace at the Tulleries in Paris. All members of the Constituent Assembly were revolutionaries but they were by no means all of one mind, and major differences of opinion were present. In the seating arrangements in the meeting hall those who opposed the far-reaching consequences of the August decrees sat to the right of the president’s rostrum. Although they became referred to as aristocrats many were of the bourgeoisie. Included also were the “Monarchiens” who wanted the King to have a binding veto and who wanted a two-house legislative chamber as the English had with a House of Lords and a House of Commons. To the left of the rostrum sat those who fully supported the August decrees and who became known as the Patriot Party. This group, besides the bourgeoisie also included liberal nobles such as Lafayette. The Constituent Assembly established liberty and equality for all people, but as we will discuss later liberty by its very nature leads to inequality, and imposing complete equality must of necessity diminish liberty.
Although the King had accepted his role as a Constitutional Monarch in a secret letter to his cousin, the King of Spain, he disowned the August decrees he had been forced to sign by the revolutionaries. In June 1791 he attempted to flee the country but was apprehended at Varrenes and brought back to Paris. In the meantime the Patriot Party itself became further split with one section increasingly disturbed by popular protests and uprisings that were sweeping the country. These members desired to end the revolution and revise the Constitution. The arrest of the King further divided the revolutionaries. In September 1791 a new Constitution was established which the King was forced to accept. The Constituent Assembly was dissolved in favor of a new Legislative Assembly, with a new slate of delegates elected. In addition to many difficulties, both political and economic, as well as other divisive issues, France was now a war with Prussia and Austria, a war of its own making.
The delegates were split into a moderate group, the Feullants on the right who were attempting to create a stable social order based on liberty combined with property rights; they favored equality of opportunity and before the law but not equality of outcome or condition. On the left were the radical Jacobins, who leaned strongly in the direction of complete peoples rights and close to equality of outcome. In this movement toward social and economic equality the were pushed by the increasingly influential Sans-Culottes, street crowds that included workers, but also skilled journeymen, craftsmen and small shopkeepers. Paris was in an uproar. On August 9-10 1792 a large insurrection happened in Paris in which there were almost 400 dead and wounded. Power was now in the hands of the Jacobins who, together with the lower orders of society, wanted social democracy. The Jacobins established a revolutionary commune in Paris on August 10 which claimed power to speak for the people. The Legislative Assembly was replaced by the National Convention in September abolishing the monarchy, establishing a new revolutionary calender and year one of the republic. The King, after appearing before the Convention was executed in January 1793.
At this point the intellectual and other elites of the French population had vanished from the political scene, and power was in the hands of individuals ill-prepared by education or experience to wield such power. The Convention was divided between the Jacobins on the political left, also known as the Mountain because they sat very high in the Convention hall. On the political right were the more moderate Girondins. Both groups were largely middle-class bourgeoisie, committed to the democratic movement and the republic and both groups were, in the main contemptuous of religion. They differed primarily in the extent of economic and social leveling wanted and the rights of property. Initially the Girondins maintained political control in the Convention but for reasons too numerous to chronicle here, they lost control to the Jacobins who increasingly were being pushed by the Sans-Culottes on their political left.
In response, the Convention elected a Commission of Twelve to investigate the activities of the revolutionary commune. The Commission got nowhere. A revolutionary committee to take power away from the Girondins succeeded on June 2 with the help of a crowd of 80,00 that besieged the Convention. Many of the Girondin leaders were executed on October 31. Power was now in the hands of the Jacobins and the Committee of Public Safety led by Danton and ultimately Robespierre. The revolution played out increasingly in a radical direction and the ‘Great Terror” June 10, 1794 lasting until July 27 (month of Thermidor by the revolutionary calendar) and the execution of Robespierre and Saint-Just. By this time Danton, Marat and many other of the Jacobin leadership had been executed. The Jacobin Clubs were closed. The revolution had truly devoured its own.
Political and economic conditions were very unstable throughout France. There were uprisings in Paris and among the peasantry. In the West of France, in the Vendee there was a strong royalist insurrection. The National Convention had its final session October 26, 1795 and the government was now in the hands of a Directory. with a new Constitution. This Constitution of 1795 upheld liberty, the promotion of talent and a reasonable arrangement of social life. It had as its objectives separation of powers, centralization of administration and the defense of property rights within a democratic system. Instability continued until November 10, 1799, Eighteen Brumaire as it is now referred to when a well planned Coup d’etat brought Napoleon to power. Still another new Constitution was proclaimed December 15 and churches were reopened for worship on sundays. The Consulate was established with Bonaparte, Sieyes and Ducos as Consuls..The First Republic was at and end and the Revolution of 1789 was over.
The Evolution of Socialism
Socialism in its true and historic sense is a system of organizing a society such that there is no private property, and the means of production and distribution of goods is in the hands of the State. What became known as Christian Socialism derived from the words of Christ. In Matthew 19 Christ is asked by a young rich man what he should to obtain eternal life. Besides obeying the law Christ told him to sell all his goods and give to the poor. To his disciples he said (Matthew 19: 23-24) “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a Camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Perhaps somewhat more realistically Christ said in Matthew 26:11 “the poor you will always have with you”. There are intimations of communal living in the early Christian church and so Christian socialism has authentic roots. It should be noted, however, that what Christ advocated was private giving i.e. charity, not government taking for redistribution to the poor which of course is the heart of both socialism and, as we will see, social democracy.
As socialism developed and became a political
in Europe in the 19th century, it was more associated with atheism than
Christianity with the goal of producing a paradise on earth, in
to a life hereafter. The Edinburgh Review in January 1851 noted
with the following comments:
“Socialism is no new doctrine. From the earliest times men have been shocked and grieved by the evils which have prevailed in every land and in every form which society has yet assumed: subtle and ingenious thinkers have imagined model republics in which no misery should exist; and zealous and earnest philosophers have endeavoured to realize these high imaginations and put them into actual operation. The societies thus conceived or created have assumed every possible variety of form...But one great idea pervades them all- community of property, more or less complete and unreserved- common labour for the common good.”
In the 20th century it turned out that the cure was much worse than the disease. Socialism in its pure form results in totalitarianism and has failed all over the world. The desire to equalize social and economic conditions remains strong, as described so eloquently in The Edinburgh Review in 1851, but now resides, with some notable exceptions, primarily in the welfare states and social democratic parties of Europe.
Early Socialists in the 18th-19th Centuries
Comte Henri de Saint-Simon (1769-1825),
Fourier (1772-1837) and Robert Owen
( 1772-1858) were later described by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels as utopian socialists in contrast to their own ideas which they deemed to be based on science and which they called scientific socialism, and still later called communism.
Saint-Simon asserted that society suffered from an excess of individualism. He believed that a new industrial order could come about as a result of advances in science and technology. He advocated a rule by “experts” who would govern society in a more orderly and equitable manner. Although he realized that society could not become truly equalitarian because of the natural inequalities among men, his followers extended his ideas to call for the abolition of private property, the hallmark of true socialism. In the stated position of these Saint-Simonians “the hereditary transmission of power and property was counter to the rational ordering of society”.
Fourier, who had spent most of his life as a salesman, came to hate a world built on competition and business. He proposed model communities where no one would need to do work he or she didn’t like but would only carry out tasks compatible with their basic natures. In his view, love and passion would bind men together in a non-coercive harmonious community. Of course, this idea is truly utopian.
Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a more down-to-earth Welsh industrialist who was known as a “model employer” in his textile mills in Scotland. He was, by nature, a reformer both of industry and education. Often at odds in his ideas with some of his fellow industrialists he turned to cooperation with the trade union movement. Since he was aware of some of the abuses of industrialism he wanted to eliminate what he felt was wasteful competition, educate the workers with rational enlightenment and set up model communities known as Villages of Unity and Cooperation for the rational control and regulation of industry. Such Owenite communities were set up in New Harmony, Indiana as well as elsewhere in the United States. All failed.
Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Frederich Engels
It is important to understand that
was true socialism in practice, not a more extreme variant. Marx,
Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were all social democrats before they
themselves communists. The Communist Manifesto, written in
1848, stated the following”
“In most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in he hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state;
the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
When, in the course of development,
distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated
in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public
will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called,
is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If
proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by
force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class; if, by means of
a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps
by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with
conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class
and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own
as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and
antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”.
Most of the political and economic prediction made by Marx in the Manifesto and his other writings never came to pass. However, the provenance of the graduated income tax and the heavy taxation of inheritance is clearly Marx, since before the Manifesto they didn’t exist.
The First through Fourth Socialist Internationals
The Communist Manifesto failed to garner much attention when written even during the year 1848 when revolutions were occurring all over Europe. In 1864 in London, the International Working Mens Association, which became known as the first Socialist International, was founded. It was composed of workers and intellectuals from England and the continent. It was dominated by Marx from it’s inception and Marx’s ideas came to dominate the emerging socialist movement. This first International only lasted until 1876. The second Socialist International was founded in 1889 and was dominated by the delegates from Germany and the ideas of Marx. With the onset of WWI it foundered and died. In the beliefs of the socialist movement, worker solidarity among the nations of Europe would be stronger than and would trump nationalism. This proved spectactularly not to be the case and workers in Germany supported the Kaiser, workers in England the King and workers in France la Patrie
After the success of the Russian revolution
Lenin and the Bolsheviks founded the Third Socialist International also
known as the Communist International. As the Comintern it
tried by covert and overt means to subvert governments all over the
including the United States. Lenin was of the belief that the communist
revolution in Russia would not succeed without other communist
in Europe, especially in Germany, the home of Marx ans the social
movement. When this didn’t happen Stalin modified Lenin’s idea, but not
the international subversion taking place under the Comintern by
for socialism in one country. He did this to distinguish himself
from his rival who was a faithful Leninist calling for a.permanent
Trotsky was exiled from Russia and brutally murdered on Stalin’s order
with an icepick in Mexico in 1940.
A Fourth International was founded in 1938 by Trotsky and his followers. The goal was higher wages and better working conditions (minimum goal), and the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism (maximum goal). Trotsky’s murder in 1940 dealt a serious blow to the Fourth International. In 1953 it split into two factions; The International Committee and the International Secretariat respectively.
The Welfare State and Present Day Social Democracy
True socialism has been a failure all over
the world. It gave birth to communism, as just discussed, fascism
(Mussolini was a socialist), and Naziism (national socialism).
in his 1998 book entitled Socialism, Social Ownership and Social
Justice wrote the following:
“Although Kautsky accepted that socialization of the forces of production was only a means to the fundamentalist end of abolishing exploitation and oppression, he held that acceptance of this means was the crucial key to what it meant to be a socialist. If the means failed to work or were rejected as mistaken ‘then we should be obliged to abandon socialism in the interests of our goal”.
“In more recent years the major European socialist parties have gradually come to terms with the reality that there is no feasible prospect of establishing socialist societies, where all but the smallest enterprises are run by a variety of socially owned and socially-run bodies. These parties now recognize and accept that the bulk of the means of production will continue to reside in corporate capitalist hands”.
“The ideology of European social democratic parties has changed, and social ownership has moved from the center to the periphery. But as long as such parties adhere to the fundamental end and purpose of socialism, to seek the abolition of oppression, exploitation, discrimination, poverty and injustice, they are entitled, in my opinion, to claim to be socialist”.
Many European countries today are governed by social democrats. Perhaps the best and most successful example of a Welfare State is Sweden (see the glossary for the definition of a Welfare State). It is therefore useful to give some attention to Sweden’s development and its current situation. From about 1870, as industrialism accelerated, until 1979 Sweden progressed from being an underdeveloped primarily poor agricultural country to a country with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. The period from 1890 to 1930 was especially impressive in economic and political development. From relying primarily on the export of raw materials such as timber and iron ore Sweden became a major producer and exporter of manufactured products driven by Swedish inventiveness. From 1890 to 1946 manufactured products grew from 2% to 25% of total exports.
Sweden had many advantages: 1) relatively educated and independent minded peasants and small farmers, 2) being a large country with a low population, 3) rich supplies of timber, water power, iron ore and other minerals, 4) an ethnically homogeneous population with a strong work ethic, 5) a strong commitment to education and 6) a well paid, competent and honest class of civil servants. In addition Sweden had enjoyed peace since the very early 1800's, especially reaping economic benefits by remaining neutral during the two world wars of the 20th century. It traded with the belligerents and its infrastructure suffered no destruction. In summary, during this period Sweden was not socialist and indeed was characterized by limited government, free trade, free enterprise with a market driven economy, and social mobility.
The Social Democratic party came to power in 1932 during the world wide depression. Sweden had, however, abandoned the gold standard in 1931 and the depression in Sweden was less severe than elsewhere in Europe. Recovery was led by a boom in exports. It needs to be understood that when the Social Democrats came into power Sweden already had a growing economy with a per capita income higher than most other countries in Europe.
An old age pension act had been passed in 1913
it was modest in scope. The Swedish Welfare State, as we know it
today developed since the Social Democrats came into power in
It consists of a cradle to grave income transfer and social
system including but not limited to children’s allowances, income
housing benefits, sick pay, health insurance, grants and loans for
and university students and a variety of old age pension programs.
The most important characteristics of the Welfare State include a central labor union (LO) and country wide centralized bargaining with the equally centralized Swedish Employers Federation (SAF). These two powerful organizations signed a concordat that has, in the main, provided a large amount of industrial peace. The Swedish model also is based on free trade and is heavily export dependent, witness the large numbers of Volvos and Saabs in the United States and the rest of the world. The model is not based on centralized economic planning as it would be under pure socialism but rather on a high rate of taxation and income and wealth redistribution.
The 1950's and 1960's were the heyday for the Swedish model of a Welfare State. By 1950 Sweden was the wealthiest country in Europe. Gross national product (GNP) grew at 4% per year and Sweden’s share of world exports increased dramatically. The wealth was created by private enterprise and distributed by the government through high rates of taxation. The model, however, started to break down in the 1970's and 1980's. Labor policies were imposed by the government that increased labor costs while decreasing productivity. Sweden’s exports increasingly became non-competitive in a global market. From 1970 to 1994 production costs went up 15% and market shares declined 30% Industrial policy programs that increased production costs increased from 1% of GNP in 1970 to 5% of GNP in1979. The Swedish government took over the three largest steelworks and merged them into one state run company. This also was done in the shipbuilding and textiles sectors. Full employment was artificially maintained through this nationalization and also an increase in public sector jobs. As productivity continued to drop the budget deficit increased from 1% of GNP in 1975 to 14% in 1983. The government devalued the Swedish krona 16% and increased taxes. However the cost of public services was high. For example, subsidized day care needed because of gender equality mandates expanded to cost $12,000 per year. The marginal income tax rate for employees stood at 65% in 1988 up from 43% in 1960. From 1961 to 1974 per capita income rose 3.3% per year. In contrast, by in 1975 to 1993 per capita income increased a mere 0.6% per year and in 1992-3 was a dismal minus 3-4% per year.
In 1991 the Social Democrats lost power to a coalition government headed by a conservative for the first time since the 1920's. The downward spiral not only continued but worsened. Conservatives and Social Democrats agreed on program of major public spending cuts including welfare reductions combined with a value added tax and other tax increases. The deep recession continued and the Social democrats came back into power in 1994. The centerpiece of their proposed economic recovery program was to reduce the public debt by 5 billion krona by 1998 primarily by continuing to reduce government spending which by this point was running at 70% of GNP combined with additional tax increases. Unemployment in 1994 stood at 14%.
The viability of the Swedish Welfare State, as currently constructed, is in serious doubt. A hopeful sign is that the Social Democrats on coming back into power realize that jobs must be created in the private sector, not in the government. However as late as 1997 unemployment remained high at 13% and the public debt was still massive.
The Russian Revolutions of 1917
Russia, at the beginning of the 20th Century, was a country where 80% of the population were peasants, only lately having been liberated from being serfs. However, revolutionary ideas of the Enlightenment and the socialist ideas of Marx had fully penetrated the intellectual classes, and liberal elements in the nobility. In addition, informed opinion was aware of American and French revolutions, and the occurrence of revolutions throughout Europe in1848. Nevertheless Russia remained the most autocratic regime in Europe with no parliament and no constitution. The people had no role in government and the Tsar ruled with divine right blessed and endorsed by the Russian Orthodox Church. In spite of this, the economy which was based on market principles was strong and Russia led the world in the export of petroleum and grain.
The social democratic movement in Russia based on the ideas of Karl Marx emerged in the late 1890's. True to his ideas, the social democrats believed that a socialist/communist transformation of society could occur only in a developed capitalist state. Marx himself thought that Russia was the last place that a communist state could be established. Therefore the strategy of the social democrats in Russia was to work toward a two stage revolution with the first a bourgeois/capitalist revolution followed by a socialist/communist revolution. Lenin did not accept this premise and was confident that a communist state could be established directly in Russia without going through the fully developed capitalist state. In this, of course, as it happens Lenin was right. At the second congress of the Russian Social Democratic party held in Brussels, the party split into two parts, the Bolsheviks, self described as the majority which at that time they were not and the Mensheviks, the minority. The Bolsheviks followed Lenin’s leadership, while the Mensheviks were more traditional social democrats.
At the turn of the century in Russia there were several other important political groupings. The largest, far larger than the Social Democratic party with both elements considered together was the Socialist Revolutionary party. This group favored power to the people, especially the peasants, and advocated violence including political terrorism, assassinations and bank and train robberies to accomplish its goal of a socialist state that would end all exploitation. The only truly liberal party was the Constitutional Democratic party, the “Kadets”. Its membership consisted largely of intellectuals, liberal aristocrats and members of the professional classes such as doctors, academics and lawyers. They followed the liberal ideas of the enlightenment and strongly opposed the autocracy of the Tsar.
There were liberal uprisings in Russia as early as the early 1800's, but our discussion will start with the Revolution of 1905. The government had provoked a war with Japan which it lost and in which it was humiliated. The Socialist Revolutionaries were active with terror bombings and assassinations. The Tsar’s secret police had successfully infiltrated the revolutionary parties but not only double but triple agents were in play. On January 5, 1905 a police sponsored trade union headed by Father George Capon marched on the Tsar’s Winter Palace in Petrograd . The Tsar was not in residence at the time. The purpose of the demonstration was to call for the convening of a Constituent Assembly that would reflect views of the people and to call for other liberal reforms. It was a peaceful demonstration primarily by people who still believed the Tsar to be God’s appointed ruler of Holy Mother Russia. However, the demonstration got out of control and the police fired into the crowd killing several hundred of the demonstrators and wounding many more. It turned out to be a fateful day in the history of Holy Mother Russia indeed.
In response to widespread domestic unrest, strikes and so on the political situation deteriorated to the point that the Tsar was advised on October 9th by Sergei Witte, the Chairman of the Tsar’s Council of Ministers that political concessions must be made. The reform proposal from Witte started with the premise that freedom must be the hallmark of government policies because “the advance of human progress is unstoppable”. On October 17th the Tsar, under considerable duress, signed the “October Manifesto” in which he promised to establish civil liberty, move toward the voting principle of a universal franchise and the establishing of a Duma, or parliament whose approval would be necessary for a law to go into effect. The Duma was established but these proposed reforms had virtually no affect in calming revolutionary sentiments and activities. In December, the Bolsheviks in the Moscow Soviet, theoretically a Worker’s Council, but in reality dominated by revolutionaries not workers, called for an armed uprising to overthrow the government and the convening of the Constituent Assembly. The social democrats boycotted the Duma and the Tsar refused to believe that anything fundamental had changed with his October Manifesto. In this, of course, he was tragically wrong. Revolutionary sentiment was growing and becoming more radical. In the years leading up to the First World War hopeful developments were true reforms implemented by the Minister of the Interior Stolypin.. Unfortunately he was assassinated by a double agent in 1911. Apparently the Tsar did not grieve the reformer’s death. In 1914, Russia declared war on Austria and Germany in solidarity with it’s Serb brethren in Serbia. Serbia had been provoked into war when Austria issued it an unacceptable ultimatum in response to the assassination of it’s Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, on a state visit to Sarajevo in Bosnia. Thus began the most consequential war in European history a war that led directly to communism in Russia, fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, a world wide depression, and the Second World War.
By 1917 all the belligerents were war weary and the United States had entered the war. Russia had suffered major military defeats and many battlefield casualties had been borne disproportionately by the peasantry. In addition the war took many of the peasants off the land. For a variety of reasons food became short in the cities and moral was low and falling. The year opened in January with a strike and major demonstration of 300,000 people in commemoration of Bloody Sunday, January 9, 1905. On February 23rd, International Women’s Day, women in one of the factory districts in Petrograd demonstrated for more bread. The demonstration expanded the next day when the women were joined by 50,000 idle or locked out workers with shouts against autocracy and against the war. The Tsar by telegram from the Front where he had gone to take command of the army ordered the police to restore order. The police, military and the Cossacks refused to take action against the people. The situation deteriorated so rapidly that the Tsar was forced to abdicate the throne and was put under virtual house arrest in Tsarkoe Selo. An ostensibly republican Provisional Government was established February 28. It was headed mostly by progressive elements of the Duma.
Unfortunately for liberal reform, there was another center of power; the Petrograd Soviet, dominated by Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries at that time.at that time. Lenin, in fact, was in Switzerland at that time bemoaning his fear that socialist revolution would not come to Russia in his lifetime. His fear was unfounded. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were against the war and wanted peace at any price. The German government well understood that and delivered Lenin to the Finland Station in Petrograd in the infamous “sealed train. Lenin arrived in Petrograd April 3 and immediately delivered a militant speech that called for the immediate replacement of the Provisional Government with a Socialist/Communist government. Later that day he issued his historic “April Theses” that both astounded and dismayed his followers. In these he called for: 1) renunciation of the war, 2) immediate transition to socialism, 3) denial of all support to the Provisional government, 4) transfer of all political power to the worker’s soviets, 5) dismantling the army in favor of a people’s militia, 6) confiscation of property from landlords and nationalization of all land, 7) establishment of a single national bank under soviet supervision, 8) soviet control of production and distribution 9) creation of a new Communist International to replace the defunct 2nd Socialist International, and 10) convening of the Constituent Assembly. His followers thought he had gone mad. The Germans were of course delighted.
In the short period between the February revolution and the October revolution, which was in fact a coup d’etat, the Provisional Government struggled with the war, continued revolutionary activities, economic difficulties and food problems. It went through four changes in governance ending with a government dominated by socialist revolutionaries and headed by the Socialist Revolutionary A. F. Kerensky. This government felt an obligation to its allies to support the war but the army was mutinous and the population exceedingly war weary. The Petrograd soviet was in fact more powerful than the government and constantly undermined efforts at reform which under the circumstances were weak at best. Defeatist sentiment in the army and general population was growing, made worse by infamous “war order no. 1", issued by the Petrograd soviet which directed the military to obey only its orders, not the governments or military commanders, and also called for a democratization of the ranks in the army. Lenin organized a private army, his “Red Guards” which he refused to subordinate to the Petrograd soviet. It is now known that the German government heavily subsidized the Bolsheviks, something beneficial to it in the short term, but in the long term disastrous and which it came to deeply regret.
The Bolsheviks attempted a coup in July but they were premature and the government hunted down and arrested many Bolsheviks. Lenin and his associates were charged with high treason but he escaped to Finland and his associates went into hiding. In response to the attempted coup General Kornilov ordered his unit, the Third Cavalry into position midway between Petrograd and Moscow. He came to Moscow to attend a conference, over Kerensky’s foolish objections. He was wildly cheered which Kerensky took as a personal insult. Through intrigue, misunderstandings and deviousness on the part of some but not by Kornilov, Kerensky became convinced that the threat to his government came fro Kornilov not Lenin and the Bolsheviks. In this of course he was tragically mistaken. Kornilov became completely discredited, but the government in the eyes of the military also became discredited. Meanwhile the Kornilov affair gave new hope to Lenin who had, by this time, returned to Petrograd. Although the Bolshevik leadership outside Lenin believed they were still too weak to seize power Lenin insisted that “the Bolsheviks can and must seize power”.
A Constituent Assembly was scheduled to be convened November 28 with elections for the delegates November 12. Lenin insisted that the Bolsheviks seize power led by his Red Guards. He knew that it was imperative that this seizure must happen before the Constituent Assembly, dominated by the Socialist Revolutionaries was convened. As it happens, the coup was led by the Milrecom, the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd soviet but in fact a front for the Red Guards. The Second Congress of Soviets which was under the complete control of the Bolsheviks was called into session to sanction the coup. The government was well aware of developments but responded weakly only closing several bolshevik newspapers but in the main feeling the could solve the problem with negotiation. On the night of October 24 Bolshevik units took control of important locations in the city, which were not defended, including the Military Staff Headquarters. The Winter Palace remained in the hands of the government for a short while being defended by military cadets and some volunteers. No relief arrived and the next day pro-Bolsheviks took over the Winter Palace. The Ministers present, to avoid bloodshed ordered surrender. The Cabinet minus Kerensky was arrested. He ultimately escaped from Russia.
The All Russian Congress of Soviets was forced to open before the Bolsheviks had successfully completed their, at that time attempted coup. The socialist revolutionaries and Mensheviks denounced the coup and demanded negotiations with the government. They were described by Trotsky as “fit only for the garbage heap of history”. However at 3:10 am it was announced that the government had been arrested and the Congress adjourned until evening. At 10:40 pm Lenin appeared to tumultuous applause and a new provisional government called the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarcom) was established. The stated plan was for this provisional government to serve only until the convening of the Constituent Assembly. Lenin promised that all decisions would be subject to ratification, rejection or modification by the Constituent Assembly. In Moscow there was greater, but equally unsuccessful, resistance to the Bolsheviks. By early November the Bolsheviks controlled the cities in Greater Russia, in other words, the heartland. The average “man in the street” was oblivious to the momentous transformation in government that had occurred, a change that would not be reversed for 75 years. By early December the Bolsheviks, to be renamed the Communist party in March of the next year, had closed the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and its executive committee. and had fractured and effectively destroyed the Peasant’s Congress. The Bolshevik Sovnarcom authorized Lenin to rule by decree. Opposition newspapers were quickly shut down.
Elections were held throughout Russia in November
for the Constituent Assembly. Lenin stated on December 1, before
the results were known that “we know no institution which more
expresses the will of the people”. In that he was probably
but not in the way he had intended. The Socialist Revolutionary
captured 40% of the vote and the Bolsheviks only 24% with the
Democrats at 5% of the vote. The Assembly opened January
Bolshevik units surrounded and completely intimidated the delegates. At
4 am the morning of January 6 a motion was made “to adjourn because the
guards were tired”. Two hours later the Assembly adjourned, but
to meet that evening. It never met again. A government more
autocratic than that under the Tsar was now in place with a secret
bigger than that of the Tsar.
The Bolsheviks, under Lenin’s prodding withdrew from the war unilaterally yielding vast amounts of territory to the Germans who didn’t want to play the Bolshevik’s game. The Bolsheviks ultimately signed with Germany in March 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ceded these lost territories to Germany. After the defeat of Germany by the Allies and after America entered the war, the Armistice of November 11 forced on Germany restored these lost territories to Russia and, as a result Lenin looked infallible to his followers. The Tsar and his family were lined up against a wall and brutally murdered, under the direct order of Lenin it is now known, the night of July 16, 1918. An attwmpt was made on Lenin’s life in August leading to the ‘red terror”. Hundreds of thousands of “counter-revolutionaries” were arrested and either executed or sent to prison camps in Siberia. It took winning a bloody Civil War that lasted from 1918 until 1921 in which the Red Army, under the command of Trotsky but also including many ex-Tsarist officers defeated the White Army, also under the command of ex-Tsarist officers, and brutally put down a sailors revolt at the Kronstadt Naval Base before Bolshevik power was secured. In addition, the Bolshevik government successfully dealt with a serious famine in1921-22 with the help of Herbert Hoover and his famine relief organization The world would never be the same.
Political Ideologies and Descriptive Terms
Politics is the art and science of governance. As such it is concerned with power, where it originates, how and by whom is it exercised and to what purpose. Historically, there has never been any unanimity concerning governance and the aspects cited above, nor is there ever likely to be any. A political ideology is a way of looking at governance and the terminology used help us to distinguish among these ideologies by associating a term with each. These terms have evolved with time and circumstances and current meanings are not always the same as meanings originally associated with the terminology. Dictionary definitions of many of these terms are provided in the glossary. It is the intent of this section to discuss those terms most relevant to the current political scene in the United States. This will be helpful when we discuss the evolution of the two major political parties today, the Democratic and Republican parties.
Power in mediaeval Europe was in the hands of the King and Church. In countries such as France the Catholic Church was especially powerful and owned much land. this led to a strong anti-clerical reaction on the part of revolutionaries. At that time, those who wanted to preserve as much as possible to power of the Crown and Church were the conservatives, or the Court Party. They wanted to conserve the existing political and social order and were opposed to change, especially radical change. In France they were Royalists, in England Tories. In the American colonies at the time of the revolution those loyalists who opposed the revolution and sided with the king were called Loyalists or Tories. Unfortunately the term is still used in this original sense, i.e. individuals who oppose change and favor the established order.. This, for the most part, today is an inaccurate use of the term.
Since the time of the French Revolution, political thought has been, in a shorthand way, divided into a political left, and a political right. based on where the delegates to the Constituent Assembly sat in relation to the President’s rostrum. It should be noted, and this is an important point, that all, both right and left were revolutionaries committed to the abolition of the old regime and the establishment of a Constitution and a constitutional system of governance. Those seated on the left were those who wanted the most radical social and economic reform possible leading to a high degree of equality of condition, i.e. economic and social leveling. Those on the right were in favor of equality before the law and equality of opportunity, but not of condition. They were strongly supportive of protecting property rights, consistent with the views of John Locke, David Hume and Voltaire but not Rousseau. All on the left favored a Constitutional Republic, while some on the right also favored a republic but some favored a Constitutional Monarchy such as existed in Great Britain, and of which Montesquieu was an admirer. All were supportive of the political ideology of liberalism as originally understood to favor liberty and freedom for the people with the least coercion consistent with a lawful, orderly society.
Liberalism as originally understood in the 18th and early 19th century evolved into something quite different in the latter half of the 19th and the entire 20th century through the influence of utilitarianism and socialism, especially as forcefully and effectively advocated by Karl Marx. What liberalism has become in Europe we will refer to as social democracy. What it has become in the United States, especially after 1932 and the New Deal we will refer to as modern liberalism. Liberalism , in its original and truthful meaning in now referred to as classical liberalism. Classical liberalism, as was the case for liberalism in its original sense, is based on the paramount importance of individualism as contrasted with collectivism as implemented through the power of the government, and on the importance of property rights in a free society. Its most forceful advocates include the late F. A. Hayek and James Buchanan, both Nobel Prize winners in economics.
As the ancien regimes fell in Europe and there were clarion calls for liberty and equality, it became apparent that, because people varied in abilities, interests and motivational drives, the greater degree of liberty sought the less would equality of condition be the result. In converse, the government could only enforce equality of condition by authoritarian means and a restriction of liberty. This simple fact has plagued socialist thinkers including Marx ever since. The socialist movement, especially as forcefully advocated by Karl Marx in the middle of the 19th century wanted equality of condition. To accomplish this visionary goal the socialists advocated, and true socialists indeed still advocate, abolition of private property and government ownership of the means of the production and distribution of goods and services. As mentioned above, to accomplish this must of necessity lead to a totalitarian state and socialism has been a colossal failure all over the world.
Nevertheless legitimate concerns about injustice, inequalities and exploitation remain and in fact always will remain which is why a State designed to completely eliminate such injustices is called Utopia, since it can never exist, and advocates of such a possibility utopian thinkers. Social Democrats, the dominate political party in Europe no longer publically advocate true socialism for the good reason that it doesn’t work, but in their heart of hearts they still desire it. What they advocate instead is the Welfare State in which the government assumes the primary responsibility for the social and economic welfare of its citizens. This is collectivism writ large, in contrast to the individualism advocated by classical liberals. The United States does not have a true Welfare State, although the first inklings of such a move were seen in the 1912 Bull Moose campaign of ex-President Theodore Roosevelt in which he advocated “The New Nationalism”, which would have involved an extensive involvement of Government in private business. We moved even closer in 1933 with the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt.
As described by Hayek, classical liberalism is
strongly on the rule of law in which everyone knows the rules and the
are enforced by the government impartially with no arbitrariness and
no intent to show favoritism to one group or another. It is also rooted
strongly in individualism, the doctrine that the interests of
are ethically paramount and that the right to own property is
for a free society. For that reason classical liberals oppose
redistribution through steeply progressive rates of taxation because
amounts to an unjust confiscation of private property.
Economic health and growth depends on what Hayek calls “the spontaneous order”. What is meant by this is that no individual, group of individuals or indeed government has or can attain the information needed to make an economy work and be successful. That information is in the hands of hundreds of thousands of individuals scattered throughout the population. It is the market where all this information is integrated and it is a profit motive that drives economic well-being, not altruism or government action. This is the “invisible hand” in the writings of Adam Smith. In addition a free society depends on the rights of individuals to own property.
Libertarians favor less government
than do classical liberals and in the extreme case favor the Minimal
of Nozick and which has been described by others as anarcho-capitalism.
Another point of difference from many but not all classical liberals is
to see no role of the government in promoting or enforcing moral rules
of constraints. In contrast, Hayek acknowledged the important
tradition and religion play in maintaining the social and economic
Liberals, as the term is understood today, favor more government regulation, a larger more activist government, high taxes for expanded government programs and income redistribution through a progressive income tax and estate tax. They have reluctantly come to appreciate that a free market works better than central economic planning and decision making by the government. However, they still are skeptical about business and business men and if truth be told are not enthusiastic about business profits. In a recent book on Socialism, Social Ownership and Social Justice by Macfarlane the following opinion was offered: “The ideology of European social democratic parties has changed, and social ownership has moved from the center to the periphery. But as long as such parties adhere to the fundamental end and purpose of socialism, to seek the abolition of oppression, exploitation, discrimination, poverty and injustice, they are entitled, in my opinion, to claim to be socialist”. By this standard the liberals and social democrats of today can consider themselves in spirit to be socialists.
The conservative movement of today is close to classical liberalism as defined by Hayek. Goldwater, Reagan and Thatcher all publically acknowledged their intellectual debt to Hayek, and stated that there political philosophies were based on Hayekian principles which indeed they were. The conservatives of today favor individualism, free markets and free trade, private property, smaller government and lower taxes. Conservatives may be divided into three groups, but all, in the main, support the above principles. Social conservatives favor more of a role for government related to moral issues and concerns than do most economic- or neo-conservatives, particularly on abortion. Any neo-conservatives are ex liberals, mostly Jewish, who became disillusioned with modern liberalism in the 1960's. They see a larger role for government in responding to economic and social inequities than do the economic and social conservatives, many of whom consider themselves to be paleo-conservatives as contrasted with neo-conservatives. The “House Organs for neo-conservatives are Commentary Magazine and the Public Interest, while The New Republic and The Nation play ths role for modern liberals. Paleo-conservatives look to the pages of The National Review and Libertarians to The Independent and the policy papers of the Cato Institute. which states on its web page that it is devoted to “Individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace”
Genealogy of the Two Major Political Parties in the United States
In the beginning, there were the Federalists. In 1800 the federalists died in giving birth to the Republicans. In 1828 the Republicans died in giving birth to twins, today’s Democrats and today’s Republicans the latter who, however, required two additional gestations as National Republicans and then Whigs before delivering the modern Republican party in 1856, and the party of Lincoln and the presidency in 1860. Now we need to examine these genealogies in more detail.
At the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 there was a general realization among political leaders and thoughtful people that the Articles of Confederation were not creating a true nation but rather a loose confederation of thirteen former colonies now known as States. The Constitution of the United States established a federal republic in which power was to be shared between the national or federal government and the states. The Federalist Papers authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay defended the Constitution and federalism as a necessary arrangement that would create a strong enough national government that would not become oppressive. The anti-federalists feared that the Constitution would create a national government with too much power but they were in a minority. There were no political parties in any real sense at the time and the first President George Washington earnestly hoped that there would never be political parties in the United States. This was of course unrealistic and in Federalist no. 10 Madison wrote about the realities of factions, or political parties and the efficacy of the separation and diffusion of powers in the proposed Constitution in controlling deleterious influences of factions.
Nevertheless there existed a significant anti-federalist sentiment in the states which was concerned, in the main, with too much power in the federal government and not enough attention to the individual rights of the people. In the process to ratify the Constitution in the states much of this sentiment was dampened by an informal agreement to add a statement of rights to the Constitution after it was ratified by a required nine states. Such a statement of rights had been rejected unanimously by the representatives of the states during the Constitutional Convention with one abstention. This was not because of any differences of opinion on the reality that the people indeed possessed many such rights. The opposition to a statement or bill of rights led by Madison and others was the belief that such rights were already inherent in the Constitution and that to enumerate specific rights would imply that rights not so enumerated did not exist and did not have Constitutional protection. The first Congress, led by Madison who now acquiesced in the need for a statement of rights passed and the required number of states ratified the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known to us as the Bill of Rights.
Nevertheless, the concern about extent of power in the hands of the national government still existed and was made worse as the French Revolution took place. Jefferson, Washington’s Secretary of State and Hamilton, Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury repeatedly clashed over this divide. Hamilton favored a strong central government with authority to issue paper currency and the assumption of war debts from the states to make a single national debt. Jefferson opposed this and favored a smaller less intrusive national government He famously said that government is best that governs least. In addition, Jefferson felt that Washington and John Adams, Washington’s vice-President and who became the second President, were too antagonistic to the new republican government of France and favored Great Britain. Jefferson’s rhetoric went over the top in accusing both Adams and Jefferson of monarchial tendencies. During the troubles with France that almost led to a war, which Adams as President averted, the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts were passed which further polarized Jefferson and his supporters. Jefferson secretly helped author the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions which basically claimed that if a State did not agree with laws passed by Congress they had the right not to comply.
Jefferson, as Adams’ vice-President worked actively against the policies of the Federalist administration of John Adams. In the election of 1800, which went to the house of Representatives to decide, Thomas Jefferson was elected the third President of the United States as the head of the newly formed Republican party. The powerful Republicans from Virginia, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe held the presidency until 1824 and the Federalists, as a political constituency passed from the scene. It should not be forgotten that it was Federalists in the broad meaning of the word who created the Constitution. and we are in their debt. Jefferson on assuming the presidency in 1800 said “we are all Republicans and Federalists now”, which in a large sense was indeed true.
In 1824, John Quincy Adams, son of the second President, a member of the Republican party who had been James Monroe’s Secretary of State and author of much of what became known as the Monroe Doctrine, was elected president in another disputed election that went to the House of Representatives for resolution. He had been opposed in that election by Andrew Jackson, a southerner and hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Jackson was known as a man of the people. John Quincy Adams’ administration was contentious from the beginning and Jackson’s supporters charged that Adams had become President because of a corrupt bargain between Adams and another candidate Henry Clay, who threw his support to Adams in the House of Representatives and subsequently became Secretary of State in Adams’ Administration. This was an unfair accusation since Clay would have favored Adams over Jackson in any case. Jackson and his partisans became stronger in their opposition to the government. During the 1820's and 1830's suffrage became wider and property and freehold requirements for voting gradually were abandoned. More offices at state and local levels became elective rather than appointive in nature. Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828 and the Jacksonians became the Democratic Party of today. Jackson was a self-made man who became the very personification of popular democracy. He was strong willed and the newly enfranchised people felt he stood for the poor against the rich, and against the special interests. He was indeed a populist, who stood against the interests of wealthy and influential banking and financial interests. In fact however,Jackson like Jefferson before him, and in contrast to John and John Quincy Adams, was a wealthy man with conservative social beliefs. He defended property rights and was a liberal in the classical and not the modern meaning of the term. The Democratic Party opposed high tariffs and it was in opposition to high tariffs imposed by the federal government that John Calhoun of South Carolina articulated his Nullification Doctrine by which a State had the power to nullify acts of Congress. However, Jackson as President strongly and famously opposed this doctrine and Calhoun, standing for the Union and ultimately prevailing in the confrontation. Jackson strongly opposed the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States in favor of many state and local banks which were, in fact, equally devoted to profit as was alleged about the National Bank. Jackson and his administration initiated the spoils system by which a party’s supporters were rewarded with federal and state offices. Under this system Jackson’s appointees were no more plebeian than had been the case in previous administrations. The remnants of the Republican party after the defection of the Jackson Democrats, found mostly in the North, ran for office first as National Republicans and then as Whigs taking the name of the English party identified with reform of Parliament and the power of Parliament as opposed to the King and the Tories or the Court party.
From the presidential election of 1836 until 1856, the Whigs and Democrats alternated in office. Both parties were, in the main, liberal in the classic sense if not in all particulars. The chief issues that divided them were tariffs, the size and scope of the national government and most significantly and fatefully slavery. The Democrats, being mostly from the South and dependent on exports of such commodities as cotton and tobacco, opposed high tariffs and protectionism, while the Whigs favored high tariffs to protect fledgling industries mostly in the North. The Democrats favored a smaller less powerful federal government. The biggest issue, however, was slavery.
The Democrats, mostly in the South, opposed anything that would have an adverse effect on their peculiar institution, namely slavery. They favored extension of slavery in the newly admitted states, and favored admission of Texas into the union as a slave state, thus contributing to initiation of the Mexican war. The Whigs mostly opposed the extension of slavery into the territories and newly admitted states and generally opposed the Mexican war.
As mentioned above, the Republican Party of today
came into existence as a national party in 1856 and into the presidency
with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. At its first
convention in 1856 the most important provision in the party platform
a denial that Congress had the right to recognize slavery in the
and further that Congress did have the right to eliminate slavery in
territories and ought to do so. Abraham Lincoln was elected
in 1860 in an election in which there were four major candidates.
He received less than 40% of the popular vote but 180 out of 303
votes (59%). He received no electoral votes from the ten southern states, a harbinger of things to come. The major issue in the campaign was slavery. Lincoln did not believe that Congress had the right to eliminate slavery in existing states although he strongly opposed slavery on moral grounds. His strong position was to oppose the extension of slavery into the territories and newly admitted states believing that without such an extension it would die a natural death.
Lincoln’s administration was concerned almost
with the Civil War. It is worth noting, however that the Morrill
Act establishing the Land-Grant College system to promote education in
agricultural sciences and the mechanical arts combined with a broad
education was passed in 1862 as was the Homestead Act opening up vast
of the West for settlers. In addition federal grants to start
of a transcontinental railroad on the 41st parallel were also provided
in 1862. Lincoln was a strong advocate for a transcontinental
as were his generals Grant, a later President, and Sherman.
Reconstruction and impeachment dominated the administration of Andrew Johnson who became President on Lincoln’s assassination. Grant was elected President in 1868 as a Republican, served two terms, and was followed by Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden who had won the popular vote and a disputed electoral vote as well. From 1860 until 1912 the Democrats held the White house for only eight years; the divided two terms of Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897). Except for the tariff issue the two parties had no major differences during these years. What did develop strongly in the late 19th century were agrarian populism, progressivism and a widely perceived need for political reform.
Historically, a republican form of government with a representative democracy developed in response to the exercise and abuse of power by those who historically held power, namely the King, the Aristocracy and Nobility, and the Church, especially the powerful and trans-national Roman Catholic Church. In the United States after the civil War two other sources that abused power and obtained undue influence developed in response to industrialism. One was the economic power of banks and other financial institutions, especially those located in the East, and by the railroads and big business in general, especially the steel industry. The other was the political power wielded by big city political machines such as Tammany Hall in New York which developed with the help of the expansion of the voting franchise and the large number of poor newly arrived immigrants huddled in the big cities and catered to by these political machines. The first of these gave rise to populism in the West and the second to progressivism in the East.
The prairie populist railed against the Eastern
and the railroads who exerted tremendous economic power on farmers
the control of interest and shipping rates. They also opposed the
Gold Standard which made money more expensive. The government’s
was the regulation of the railroads and shipping rates with the
Commerce Act of 1887 during the first Cleveland Administration.
of business monopolies and trusts began with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
in 1890 passed in the Republican Administration of Benjamin Harrison
by a Republican Congress. The agrarian populist movement also
the free coinage of silver and cheaper money. The Sherman Silver
Purchase Act accomplished this and was passed by the same Congress that
passed the Sherman Anti-trust Act and the McKinley Tariff which added
agricultural commodities to the protected list. Grover Cleveland,
a Democrat was elected a second time in 1892 and William McKinley, a
for the first time in 1896. Neither favored the free coinage of
In fact during Cleveland’s second term the Sherman Silver Purchase Act
was repealed.. The high water mark for prairie populism came in
when William Jennings Bryan, a prairie populist ran for President as
standard bearer for the Democratic Party and lost to McKinley. It was
the Democratic Convention that Bryan made his famous Cross of Gold
that led to his nomination. In 1900 the Gold Standard Act was
and signed into law that made gold the sole basis of coinage and the
of the money supply.
McKinley was assassinated at the start of his second term and his energetic vice-President Theodore Roosevelt became president. Roosevelt was a progressive and a reformer by nature who believed in a strong role for the federal government. In 1902 he got authorization from a reluctant Republican Congress for a Bureau of Corporations with power to inspect the books of all corporations engaged in interstate commerce. By successfully invoking the moribund and forgotten Sherman Anti-trust Act against Northern Securities and 43 other firms he became known as a Trustbuster. He called his anti-trust actions a Square Deal between labor and business. Roosevelt also was an interventionist in foreign policy acting to assist in the separation of Panama from Colombia and the construction of the Panama Canal and also being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to settle the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.
Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive much in tune with the developing Progressive Movement, and wanted to reduce the economic power of banks and big business. After leaving the White House as a relatively young man he became dissatisfied with his hand-picked successor William Howard Taft. In 1912 he assumed the leadership of the Progressive Party, renamed the Bull Moose Party, and ran for President against Taft and Wilson resulting in the election of Woodrow Wilson. He called the platform he ran on The New Nationalism. This program was based largely on a book written by Herbert Croly, a Socialist, entitled The Promise of American Life. This book also influenced Woodrow Wilson. The New Nationalism called for extensive federal intervention including more regulation of business, protection of labor, a graduated income tax and social reform putting human rights above property rights. If Roosevelt had been elected and successful in implementing his program the United States would have embarked on a program of social democracy similar to the later and original New Deal of his cousin Franklin which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It would have been far removed from the principles of Adams, Jefferson and Madison and the principles of classical liberalism so well enunciated by Hayek.
Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1912, with a strong assist from Roosevelt who split the Republican vote, on a platform he called The New Freedom. Philosophically he came into office as a progressive intent on reform but with less emphasis on federal intervention in business and labor relations. After being elected he moved in Roosevelt’s direction with the Clayton Anti-Trust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914. As Wilson prepared to run for reelection in 1916 he realized that, although the Progressive(Bull Moose) party had disintegrated, to win reelection he needed to appeal to those who had voted for Roosevelt. Therefore he moved even further in Roosevelt’s progressive direction by 1) appointing Louis Brandeis, a strong and vocal critic of big business to the Supreme Court, 2) passage of measures to provide long-term ans cheap credit to farmers, 3) child-protection legislation, 4) federal work-place compensation, 5) an eight hour day for railroad workers involved in interstate commerce, 5) federal funding for highway construction and 6) federal funding for education. The war itself resulted in more federal involvement in the economy known as war socialism. Even so Wilson only narrowly defeated the republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes in the 1916 election.
From 1920 until 1932 in what was billed a return to normalcy the Republicans held the White House and moved away from these interventionist policies. The economy was strong from 1920 until 1929 during the Harding and Coolidge administrations but collapsed in 1929 shortly after the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928. Differences between the two major parties on economic issues and the role of the federal government during those years were not large. The causes of the stock market collapse and the following deep recession are complex and many arestill in dispute. They will not be considered here. It is important to note, however, that Hoover who had served in the Wilson administration and who was unarguably the best known humanitarian in the world at that time was a progressive reformer who believed in a strong role of the federal government in economic matters in strong contrast to his predecessor Calvin Coolidge. He was not a classical liberal in this sense as was Coolidge. Hoover favored stronger action by the Federal Reserve Board in controlling excessive speculation in the stock market and was in favor of public works projects by the federal government such as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. He established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to assist in furnishing loans to business and financial institutions to help in the recovery. He was strongly opposed to direct federal relief, the dole, as something that would diminish the work ethic and cause an excessive and undue reliance on the government. His policies that contributed to causing the depression were ones of federal intervention, and not the opposite as is commonly thought. He signed the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930 and a major tax increase in 1932. He also jaw-boned business to keep up employment and not cut workers pay or hours.
In the campaign of 1932 Franklin Roosevelt accused Hoover of being a big spender an an advocate of a big government. Roosevelt promised to cut spending and balance the budget among other things such as repealing prohibition. These positions did not reveal the true feeling of Roosevelt who indeed had a deep disdain for business and what he called economic royalists. The political climate in the United States in 1932 and the views of the intellectual classes were greatly influenced by the depression and what was felt to be a terminal failure of capitalism and what was mistakenly believed, but believed nevertheless, to be the success of the communist revolution in Russia and a belief in socialism as the hope of the future. Roosevelt believed this way and even more so did his Brain Trust of college professors including Raymond Moley of Columbia and Rexford Tugwell and Thomas Tommy the Cork Corcoran of Harvard. These professors, especially Tugwell and Corcoran, believed in a strong intervention into private business affairs by the government. The difficulty was that they disdained business, and even more business men, when in fact the only thing that could lift the country out of the depression was a strong economy led by private business.
It is not the intention here to write a history of the Roosevelt or any other administration, nor a history of the several depressions of the 1930's that lasted until the outbreak of the war in 1939. What is referred to as the first hundred days of the first New deal revealed the true political orientation of Roosevelt. The two major pieces of legislation passed during this time, indeed the centerpiece of the approach of the New Deal and Roosevelt to the recession were the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act(AAA). The statistical records show clearly that neither act did any good in ameliorating the depression, and more importantly both were decisively declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the NIRA by a commanding 8-1 vote and the AAA by a 6-3 vote. The NIRA involved an extensive involvement of government in the regulation and control of big business and gave near dictatorial powers to the federal government as did the AAA in regulating agriculture and the food processing industry. These decisions infuriated Roosevelt who continued with his harsh class warfare rhetoric and an attempt to pack the Supreme Court with his supporters, an attempt universally condemned. Raymond Moley, the Creator of the Brain Trust who coined the term New Deal broke with Roosevelt in 1936 because of the strong leftward direction of his administration.
The importance of Roosevelt and the New Deal is
it set the Democratic Party on a path headed toward social democracy
a welfare state, a direction still more than apparent in the Democratic
Party today, in spite of the effort of the Democratic Leadership
to at least partially reverse or at the least slow down the party’s
in that direction.
The Republican Party, during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations was pretty much in a holding or defensive position. It regained the White House with Eisenhower in 1952, lost it to Kennedy in 1960, and regained it with Nixon in 1968. However, it wasn’t until the election of Ronald Reagan, an admirer of Hayek, in 1980 that set the modern Republican Party in the direction of smaller government, free markets, free trade and lower taxes, the attributes of classical liberalism. This are also the policies of George W. Bush, who is generally perceived to be more in the mold of Ronald Reagan than his father George H. W. Bush.
Cultural and Political Divides
In the recent presidential election what
happened is what had been feared and what has not happened for over a
years since the now well known election of 1876 in which the
were Samuel Tilden, and Rutherford B. Hayes; namely that the
who clearly and unambiguously won the popular vote lost the election,
to make matters worse by only three electoral votes. In contrast,
now President George Bush won the popular vote in 30 out of 50 States
and in 2433 out of 3111 counties (78%). The question then is who
in fact had, and indeed has, the strongest mandate to govern this large
geographically, economically, ethnically, and culturally diverse
the elected George Bush or the loser Al Gore.
To examine this issue we need to consider in more depth the Red Nation/ Blue Nation described pictorially so beautifully in the now famous County by County Map published in USA Today, and shown below. The red represent counties that gave a plurality of votes to Bush,and the blue represent counties that gave a plurality of votes to Gore. Gore’s support came almost exclusively from States in the Northeast, North Central and Western regions. This doesn’t really tell the story, however, since he got his votes primarily in large and medium size cities in these regions. Inspection of the above map shows that without Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Des Moines and Philadelphia, he would likely have lost all these States, i.e. Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Pennsylvania. According to the official election results posted by the New York State board of Elections, Gore came out of New York City with 1,628,427 votes compared to Bush’s 373,625 votes. This means that outside the confines of this one large city Gore’s national vote plurality instead of being five hundred thousand votes would morph into a seven hundred and fifty thousand vote national plurality for Bush. The prediction of Charles Pinkney in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention , mentioned earlier, that several large States could combine to carry a candidate to victory has been reduced to one large city by itself since New York City alone gave Gore over a million vote plurality out of 100 million votes cast in the country. The four large cities of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles gave Gore over a three million vote plurality, and one racial group alone, namely Blacks who represent approximately thirteen percent of the population gave Gore over a seven million vote plurality. Counties that gave a plurality of votes to Bush shown in red, are sometimes derisively referred to as flyover country, i.e. the country between the East and the West Coasts. Bush won a plurality of votes in 78% of the counties in the United States, 2400 counties compared to 680 counties for Gore.
National exit polls based on 13,131 respondents and published by CNN provide further information on the cultural and political divide. Gore received votes primarily from individuals who either hadn’t graduated from high school or who had post-graduate degrees, (i.e. college professors for example). In contrast, Bush’s vote came primarily from individuals who had attended or graduated from college. Gore’s vote came primarily from individuals earning less than fifty thousand dollars a year with Bush voters primarily earning more than fifty thousand dollars. Of Bush voters, 53% were married. Of Gore voters, 57% were not married. Of Gore voters who were married, most did not have children. So much for “soccer moms” being democratic voters.
It is interesting that upper class and working class individuals voted more for Gore, while upper-middle and middle class individuals voted more for Bush. Individuals who attended religious services at least weekly voted more for Bush while individuals who seldom or never attended voted more for Gore. This helps to dramatize at least in part the cultural divide noted by Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book One Nation, Two Cultures. A few points of reference are desirable in exploring this issue. We have a “Christian Right”, but we also have a “Christian Left”. There is a secular left and right. The “Christian Right” is alleged to be terribly narrow-minded, and intolerant to Catholics, Jews, and other religions. According to John McCain it is an evil influence and poses a significant threat to our freedoms. This wildly overstates the case. Of course, the “Christian Right” is not a monolith, and opinions vary. Bob Jones University represents a rather extreme part of the “Christian Right”. Its views, posted apparently at one time on its web site accused the Catholic and Mormon churches of being cults. It also apparently considered the Pope to be the anti-Christ. On the other hand, there has been, at least until recently, one Catholic web site that held to the view that outside the true (i.e. Catholic) church there is no salvation. Few Protestants today share the view of Bob Jones University on Catholicism, and few Catholics share the view that Protestants are damned to go to hell. As a matter of fact, the influential Catholic League of New York, headed by William Donohue, recently issued its 1999 report on anti-Catholicism in the United States. The “Christian Right” was not even mentioned, nor was Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. All those mentioned for their anti-Catholicism were on the secular left, without exception. Bill Bennett, in his 1999 Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, summarized abortion rates for 1996 by State. There were eleven States and the District of Columbia that had abortion rates above the national average. All except Florida gave their electoral votes to Gore.
One of the seminal books of the 20th Century is The Revolt of the Masses by Jose Ortega y Gasset, a Spanish republican from the days before Franco. Written in 1932 ,the English translation of this book is still so popular that it is still protected by copyright. In Gasset’s view, humanity can split into two classes of individuals; those who make great demands on themselves and those who demand nothing special of themselves except to live for the moment. More recently others have used the terms hound dogs and setters to describe more or less the same two classes. Gasset goes on to say there was a preponderance of the latter in the European culture of his time, he referred to them as “the masses”, and considered them to be “vulgar”. In contrast, those who demanded much of themselves and who were the individuals who had built and maintained Western civilization and culture he referred as the “minority” because they indeed were, in his view decidedly in the minority. In his view the masses crush everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. It is not hard to understand that when Madison referred to the opponents of the Constitution as “ignorant and jealous men” and those who supported the Constitution as men with “the wealth, abilities and respectabilities of the State” he had a similar divide in mind. Jefferson and Adams did as well when they agreed “that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds for this are virtue and talents”.
In addition to the cultural divide there is also a political divide, generally thought of in terms of the two major political parties; the democratic and republican parties. Democrats are usually considered to be liberals and Republicans are generally considered to be conservative. Of course, to believe this is to attend the mad-hatter’s tea party where things are not really what they seem. The simple fact is that most Democrats are not in the true meaning of the word liberals nor are most Republicans conservative in the true meaning of that word. True, or classical liberalism derives from the ideas of John Locke and the English revolution, Adam Smith, David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment, and the French philosophe’s, especially Voltaire and Rousseau. They stood for freedom and the protection of life, liberty and property. Our country was, indeed, founded on these ideas. In a recent article in The Independent Review, James Buchanan, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Economics, summarized the political policy stances of classical liberalism as follows; support for limited government, constitutional democracy, free trade, private property, rule of law, open franchise and federalism. The Democratic Party today stands for a large federal government, an expanded federal bureaucracy, enhanced federal regulation of business, high and progressive rates of taxation and income redistribution. There is little of a liberal political philosophy in these ideas.
Liberalism, as it is generally understood today, lost its way in the middle of the 19th century through the ideas of Marx and the rise of socialism. Friedrich Hayek, another Nobel Laureate in economics described the time between the Revolution of 1848 and 1948 as the century of socialism. However it is now abundantly clear that socialism failed spectactularly. What has taken its place is the rise of the Welfare State in which the social justice goals of socialism are sought through taxation, income redistribution and government regulation rather than through government ownership of the means of production and distribution. These are, in the main, the goals of the democratic party today. No one has expressed better both the idealism and yet the unintended consequences of this quest for social justice than the late Lionel Trilling, a man of the left when he said: “Some paradox of our natures leads us, when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.”
On the other hand to call the Republican Party “conservative” raises the question, what is it trying to conserve? Certainly not the Welfare State concept established by Roosevelt in his New Deal in 1933 and which the Republican party is at least trying to roll back. Hayek, in contrast, more accurately defines the political divide today as between those who favor individualism (Republicans and Libertarians), and those who favor collectivism (Democrats and Socialists). Perhaps the most significant divide today, however, is between those who, in the main, pay the taxes, and those who, in the main, are wards of, or employees of the government, or dependent on the government for important services. It is clear that such individuals have vested interests to vote for a government that promises to maintain or expand these services and/or employment. Currently it would be fair to surmise that a strong majority of these people reside in the “Blue Nation’ that voted heavily for Al Gore . What isn’t so clear is what percentage of the population of people absolutely dependent on the government it would take before the road to an ever expansive government bureaucracy would be foreordained and impossible to resist.
Summary and Conclusions
This essay started with a discussion of human nature since both governance and economics derive from human insights and human behavior. The state of man in nature without civilization and moral teaching is characterized by self-preservation as exemplified by acquisitiveness, territoriality, aggression, violence, fighting and sexual lust. These tendencies have been controlled with variable success over the centuries by thousands of years of moral teaching, most notably the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, and the Sermon on the Mount in the New, and also by the development of civilized societies and the rule of law. Rousseau had it exactly backwards; natural man is as characterized above, and has been taught virtue and rightful behavior through moral codes and the rule of law.
The competitive and acquisitive nature of man when combined with man’s creativity and energy has led to tremendous material progress. On the other hand, when unconstrained and uninstructed by moral, ethical and legal considerations has led to exploitation and injustice, the powerful exploiting the powerless. Even under the best circumstances of moral instruction and ethical behavior, because of the natural inequalities of mankind in abilities, ambitions and drive, equality before the law in a free society can never result in anything approaching equality of economic and social condition without coercion from the government and the restriction of individual liberty. The socialism of Marx was intended to solve the problem of inequality of condition by eliminating private property, and locating the means of the production and distribution of goods and services in the hands of the State. It failed miserably and when true socialism was implemented in Russia and China the result was the most brutal totalitarian governments the world has ever seen and when implemented in the developing world it has resulted in poverty, stagnation and corruption. It also failed when implemented through Jacobinism in France during the French Revolution resulting in disorder in the country and the reign of terror until stopped by the Thermidoreans.
The late Francois Furet, the most eminent
of the French Revolution, and by his own disclosure an ex-Marxist,
the spectacular failure of socialism/communism in his recent book The
of an Illusion. Nevertheless, as he says the hope remains that in
some distant and un-achievable utopia, the human community will
without exploitation, injustice or poverty. In the epilogue to
book, Furet expresses this human longing well:
“The downfall of Communism has affected not only Communists and Communist sympathizers. For many others it has forced a reconsideration of convictions as old as the Western Left, even of democracy itself, starting with the sense of history by which Marxism-Leninism claimed to give democratic optimism a scientific guarantee. If capitalism has become the future of socialism, if the bourgeois world is what comes after the "proletarian revolution," whatever happened to temporal certainty? The inversion of canonical priorities has undone the dovetailing of epochs on the road to progress. Once again, history has become a tunnel that we enter in darkness, not knowing where our actions will lead, uncertain of our destiny, stripped of the illusory security of a science of what we do. At the end of the twentieth century, deprived of God, we have seen the foundations of deified history crumbling-a disaster that must somehow be averted.
To add to this threat of uncertainty, there is the shock of a closed future. Westerners have become accustomed to investing society with unlimited hope, since that promises freedom and equality for everyone. In order for these qualities to assume their full meaning, it might one day be necessary to go beyond the horizon of capitalism, to go beyond the universe of rich and poor. But the end of Communism has brought the individual back into the antinomy essential to bourgeois democracy. It has revealed, as if something quite new, the complementary and contradictory terms of the liberal equation-individual rights, and the market-thus compromising the very foundation of what has constituted revolutionary messianism for two hundred years. The idea of another society has become almost impossible to conceive of, and no one in the world today is offering any advice on the subject or even trying to formulate a new concept. Here we are, condemned to live in the world as it is.
This condition is too austere and contrary to
the spirit of modern societies to last. Democracy, by virtue of
existence, creates the need for a world beyond the bourgeoisie
beyond Capital, a world. in which a genuine human community can
Throughout this book, the example of the Soviet Union has confirmed
need for a utopia. The idea of Communism, in all its
never ceased to protect the history of Communism, right up to the last
moment, when the history, by simply stopping, made the idea disappear
having so long
embodied it. But the end of the Soviet world in no way alters the democratic call for another society, and for that very reason we have every reason to believe that the massive failure of Communism will continue to enjoy attenuating circumstances in world opinion, and perhaps even renewed admiration. The Communist idea will not rise again in the form in which it died. The proletarian revolution, Marxist-Leninist science, the ideological election of a party, a territory or an empire have undoubtably come to an end with the Soviet Union. The disappearance of these figures familiar to our century brings our age to a close; it does not, however, spell the end of the democratic repertory.”
The fact of the matter is that the political left in the Western World, i.e. modern liberals in the United States and Social Democrats in Europe have been wrong in its views about all the major issues of governance and economics during the 20th century. It was wrong about Socialism, Communism, a market economy, and the virtues of capitalism, free trade and free markets. It was grievously wrong in defending Lenin, Stalin Mao, Castro and other Communists far too long and in attacking anti-Communists in the form of anti-anti-Communism. It was wrong about the Soviet Union and China under Mao. It was wrong in criticizing Reagan when he referred to the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire which it of course was, and is now freely acknowledged to have been, even by the Russians themselves.
There will always be, and should always be a concern about poverty, exploitation and injustice. The important point is the political one of how to best ameliorate these conditions where they exist without reducing liberty, without confiscating and redistributing wealth, destroying the work ethic and without increasing a culture of dependency. The Democratic Party of today is dominated by social democrats on the political left. They strive for equality of social and economic condition even at the expense of individual liberty and freedom.. They are, in the main collectivists, not individualists in the terminology of Hayek. They favor a large and intrusive federal government, more government programs and more government regulations. They favor the redistribution of wealth through confiscatory taxation policies. As was the case for Franklin Roosevelt seventy years ago, they disdain big business and businessmen, and in their heart of hearts wish there could be a way to run an economy without allowing business to make profits. The available data reveal that the dominant individuals in the Democratic Party and in the Elite media today, by no means all, are secular non-believers, i.e. atheist or at a minimum religious agnostics. Clearly, there are Democrats in Congress who do not fit this description, at least in all its particulars. It probably doesn’t even fit a majority of individuals who vote Democratic. However it does fit today’s leadership of the Democratic party in the persons of Richard Gebhardt, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Tom Dasche, the Majority leader of the Senate and in the anti-business and class warfare campaign that Al Gore ran for the presidency in 2000.
The Republican Party of today, especially since Reagan, is dominated by classical liberals of the Hayek variety, i.e. economic conservatives in the terminology of today, along with social conservatives close to either the Evangelical or the Catholic church. They of course are not two distinct populations. Reagan and George W. Bush fit into both categories. In the terminology of today, Republicans are Conservatives and Democrats are Liberals which is, of course, an inversion of reality. Republicans favor individualism as opposed to the collectivism of the Democrats, and favor a smaller, less intrusive government with fewer programs and fewer regulations. They are believers in free markets, free trade, business profitability as the driving force of an economy and lower taxes. Republicans favor the rule of lar and equality before the law but not equality of condition. The dominant, although by no means exclusive element in the Republican Party consists of Christians who believe in God.
We are a Republic, and a representative but not a
direct democracy. The legal scholar Richard Posner in his book
the Deadlock about the 2000 presidential election pointed out
that a market economy is an absolute prerequisite for a representative
democracy such as ours. He wrote as follows:
“Three things make a market economy a prerequisite for representative democracy. First, such economies depend on respect for property rights, and the effective enforcement of property rights requires a competent and impartial judiciary, which is also essential to ensure that elections are honest and to protect the personal liberties that democracy, the (potential) "tyranny of the majority," threatens. judicial protection of property rights is the forerunner of judicial protection of political liberty. Second, market economies generate wealth, and wealth increases the demand for and the supply of education, communications, and leisure. These goods, along with the financial security of living in a prosperous society, create a citizenry that not only is reasonably well informed about political issues and candidates, but also is sufficiently independent economically not to be the pawn of the mighty; relations of patronage and dependence undermine the power-diffusing objective of equal voting. Third, market economies reward and thus encourage commercial values, which are more hospitable than aristocratic or religious ones to the political equality that undergirds a democratic system. Like theocrats, aristocrats (not in the Aristotelian sense, the sense I used earlier, in which aristocracy is rule by the best, but in the more familiar sense of a hereditary caste preoccupied with honor and status and disdainful of commercial pursuits) think the issues involved in government too important to be left to the people They also (the extreme example is Coriolanus) disdain the dependence on the goodwill of hoi polloi that a democratic system imposes on officials. Persons engaged in market activities disdain others at their peril, since success in the market involves catering to the preferences of others, namely one’s customers and to a lesser extent one’s employees and other suppliers.”
In contrast to the period in which our Republic was founded, the voting franchise has become essentially universal. During the Constitutional convention of 1787, the question of how to elect the National Executive was discussed many times. The issue was first addressed on May 29th when Edmund Randolph presented the “Virginia Plan”. This plan included as resolution number seven that the National Executive be chosen by the National Legislature, namely Congress. The issue wasn’t finally resolved until September 4th when the Electoral College as we know it today was agreed to, except as later modified by the 12th amendment. During the intervening three months the direct election of the National Executive by popular vote was formally moved two times and in neither case did the motion get more than two (State) votes.
The reasons the Convention did not accept the
election of the President are as relevant today as they were then.
to the approval of the Electoral College the method the Convention kept
coming back to in its deliberations, the default position as it
was the election of the National Executive by the National
One reason was to reduce, but not completely eliminate the natural
States large in population, and wealth had by virtue of their
Charles Pinckney of South Carolina expressed this concern most directly
when Madison, in his notes of the Convention, recorded him as saying
most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will
be able to carry their points”.
However, the rejection of election of the President by a national popular vote was more fundamentally based on a distrust of direct or pure democracy, based on an understanding of history and human nature. Madison in Federalist 10 expressed his concern about “faction”, and concluded that a pure democracy “can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction”. Also in Federalist 10 he wrote “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.” Later, during the ratification process in the States Madison in letters to Washington and Jefferson expressed his concern that opposition to the Constitution was led by “ignorant and jealous men” in contrast to “men of property and education” who supported the Constitution.
In the intervening years we have moved in the direction of, but have by no means yet established, a direct democracy. Senators are now elected by a popular vote as are most presidential electors. We have instant national polls on every conceivable topics. In 1992 Ross Perot, a Presidential candidate proposed an “electronic town hall” where presumably he, as President, would take a major issue each week to the country and thereby get the responses of “the owners of the country-the people”. This information, sorted by Congressional districts could give marching orders to Congress with “no ifs, ands and buts” as to what the people want.
We as a people believe, as Abraham Lincoln at a time of national crisis put it so eloquently, in “a government of the people by the people and for the people”. The question still before us, as it was at the Constitutional convention of 1787, how is such a government, “so conceived and so dedicated” actually to govern. Are the well founded concerns of Madison and other of the Founding Fathers about a direct democracy and the necessity to control the deleterious influences of factions still valid or have we simply outgrown them. Far from having outgrown these concerns about direct and now a poll driven democracy, the events of the last century have confirmed the wisdom of the Founders in setting up a representative democracy with a diffusion and separation of power, and checks and balances designed to control the mischievous effect of what Madison termed factions. The concern about a tyranny of the majority is as valid a concern as a tyranny of the powerful and influential minority. We move further down the road to a direct and poll driven democracy at our peril.
The Spanish Republican Ortega y Gasset saw clearly in his prescient book The Revolt of the Masses published in 1932 the dangers of what he termed hyperdemocracy. A few quotations from this book are worthy of attention today:
“For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves. This reminds me that orthodox Buddhism is composed of two distinct religions: one, more rigorous and difficult, the other easier and more trivial: the Mahayana - ‘great vehicle’ or ‘great path’ - and the Hinayana -‘lesser vehicle’ or ‘lesser path’”
“To-day we are witnessing the triumphs of a hyperdemocracy in which the mass acts directly, outside the law, imposing its aspirations and its desires by means of material pressure. It is a false interpretation of the new situation to say that the mass has grown tired of politics and handed over the exercise of it to specialized persons. Quite the contrary. That was what happened previously; that was democracy. The mass took it for granted that after all, in spite of their defects and weaknesses, the minorities understood a little more of public problems than it did itself. Now, on the other hand, the mass believes that it has the right to impose and to give force of law to notions born in the cafe. I doubt whether there have been other periods of history in which the multitude has come to govern more directly than in our own. That is why I speak of hyperdemocracy. The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated. And it is clear, of course, that this "everybody" is not "everybody." "Everybody" was normally the complex unity of the mass and the divergent, specialised minorities. Nowadays, "everybody" is the mass alone. Here we have the formidable fact of our times, described without any concealment of the brutality of its features”
“My thesis, therefore, is this: the very perfection with
the XlXth Century gave an Organization to certain orders of existence
caused the masses benefitted thereby to consider it, not as an
but as a natural system. Thus is explained and defined the absurd
mind revealed by these masses; they are only concerned with their own well-being, and at the same time they remain alien to the cause of that well-being. As they do not see, behind the benefits of civilization, marvels of invention and construction which can only be maintained by great effort and foresight, they imagine that their role is limited to demanding these benefits peremptorily, as if they were natural rights. In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of to-day towards the civilization by which they are supported.”
“This is the question: Europe has been left without a moral code. It is not that the mass-man has thrown over an antiquated one in exchange for a new one, but that at the centre of his scheme of life there is precisely the aspiration to live without conforming to any moral code. Do not believe a word you hear from the young when they talk about the "new morality." I absolutely deny that there exists to-day in any corner of the Continent a group inspired by a new ethos which shows signs of being a moral code. When people talk of the "new morality" they are merely committing a new immorality and looking for a way of introducing contraband goods. Hence it would be a piece of ingenuousness to accuse the man of to-day of his lack of moral code. The accusation would leave him cold, or rather, would flatter him. Immoralism has become a commonplace, and anybody and everybody boasts of practicing it’
“It will not do, then, to dignify the actual crisis by presenting it as the conflict between two moralities, two civilizations, one in decay, the other at its dawn. The mass-man is simply without morality, which is always, in essence, a sentiment of submission to something, a consciousness of service and obligation. But perhaps it is a mistake to say "simply." For it is not merely a question of this type of creature doing without morality. No, we must not make his task too easy. Morality cannot be eliminated without more ado. What, by a word lacking even in grammar, is called amorality is a thing that does not exist. If you are unwilling to submit to any norm, you have, nolens volens, to submit to the norm of denying all morality, and this is not amoral, but immoral. It is a negative morality which preserves the empty form of the other. How has it been possible to believe in the amorality of life? Doubtless, because all modern culture and civilization tend to that conviction. Europe is now reaping the painful results of her spiritual conduct. She has adopted blindly a culture which is magnificent, but has no roots.”
Ortega y Gasset wrote these prophetic words as a Republican in the government of Spain before the Spanish Civil War and at the time when Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were at the beginning of their dictatorships under the guise of speaking for the people, in Hitler’s case the volk. We now know, or at least should know that for a culture or civilization to flourish it must be based on a belief in God and a moral code to govern some of the unruly passions of mankind. Law provides only external constraints on these passions. Without the internal constraints of a moral code based on a belief in God, the legal constraints will fail to do the job.
The competitive drives of the market and the
of man have combined with the rule of law to produce the strongest,
free-est and most moral country in the history of the world.........up
until now. To maintain ourselves we continue to be mindful
of injustice and exploitation, and not to let the wealthy and powerful
to exploit the powerless. At the same time we must not stifle
creativity and ambition nor restrict the liberty and freedom that
is guaranteed by Constitution and the rule of law. The
of classical liberalism as delineated so well by the words of
late Frederich Hayek and quoted below is best able to keep us on the
path, not the primrose path of dependency on the government and the
State with the resulting loss of human initiative.
“Indeed, no government in modern times has ever confined itself to the ‘individualist minimum’ which has occasionally been described, nor has such confinement of governmental activity been advocated by the "orthodox" classical economists. All modern governments have made provision for the indigent, unfortunate, and disabled and have concerned themselves with questions of health and the dissemination of knowledge. There is no reason why the volume of these pure service activities should not increase with the general growth of wealth. There are common needs that can be satisfied only by collective action and which can be thus provided for without restricting individual liberty. It can hardly be denied that, as we grow richer, that minimum of sustenance which the community has always provided for those not able to look after themselves, and which can be provided outside the market, will gradually rise, or that government may, usefully and without doing any harm, assist or even lead in such endeavors. There is little reason why the government should not also play some role, or even take the initiative, in such areas as social insurance and education, or temporarily subsidize certain experimental developments. Our problem here is not so much the aims as the methods of government action.
References are often made to those modest and
innocent aims of governmental activity to show how unreasonable is any
opposition to the welfare state as such. But, once the
position that government should not concern itself at all with such
is abandoned-a position which is defensible but has little to do with
defenders of liberty commonly discover that the program of
the welfare state comprises a great deal more that is represented as
legitimate and unobjectionable. If, for instance, they admit that
they have no objection to pure-food laws, this is taken to imply that
should not object to any government activity directed toward a
end. Those who attempt to delimit the functions of government in
terms of aims
rather than methods thus regularly find themselves in the position of having to oppose state action which appears to have only desirable consequences or of having to admit that they have no general rule on which to base their objections to measures which, though effective for particular purposes, would in their aggregate effect destroy a free society. Though the position that the state should have nothing to do with matters not related to the maintenance of law and order may seem logical so long as we think of the state solely as a coercive apparatus, we must recognize that, as a service agency, it may assist without harm in the achievement of desirable aims which perhaps could not be achieved otherwise. The reason why many of the new welfare activities of government are a threat to freedom, then, is that, though they are presented as mere service activities, they really constitute an exercise of the coercive powers of government and rest on its claiming exclusive rights in certain fields.
The current situation has greatly altered the task of the defender of liberty and made it much more difficult. So long as the danger came from socialism of the frankly collectivist kind, it was possible to argue that the tenets of the socialists were simply false: that socialism would not achieve what the socialists wanted and that it would produce other consequences which they would not like. We cannot argue similarly against the welfare state, for this term does not designate a definite system. What goes under that name is a conglomerate of so many diverse and even contradictory elements that, while some of them may make a free society more attractive, others are incompatible with it or may at least constitute potential threats to its existence.
We shall see that some of the aims of the welfare state can be realized without detriment to individual liberty, though not necessarily by the methods which seem the most obvious and are therefore most popular; that others can be similarly achieved to a certain extent, though only at a cost much greater than people imagine or would be willing to bear, or only slowly and gradually as wealth increases; and that, finally, there are others-and they are those particularly dear to the hearts of the socialists-that cannot be realized in a society that wants to preserve personal freedom.
There are all kinds of public amenities which
it may be in the interest of all members of the community to provide by
common effort, such as parks and museums, theaters and facilities for
sports-though there are strong reasons why they should be provided by local rather than national authorities. There is then the important issue of security, of protection against risks common to all, where government can often either reduce these risks or assist people to provide against them. Here, however, an important distinction has to be drawn between two conceptions of security: a limited security which can be achieved for all and which is, therefore, no privilege, and absolute security, which in a free society cannot be achieved for all. The first of these is security against severe physical privation, the assurance of a given minimum of sustenance for all; and the second is the assurance of a given standard of life, which is determined by comparing the standard enjoyed by a person or a group with that of others. The distinction, then, is that between the security of an equal minimum income for all and the security of a particular income that a person is thought to deserve. The latter is closely related to the third main ambition that inspires the welfare state: the desire to use the powers of government to insure a more even or more just distribution of goods. Insofar as this means that the coercive powers of government are to be used to insure that particular people get particular things, it requires a kind of discrimination between, and an unequal treatment of, different people which is irreconcilable with a free society. This is the kind of welfare state that aims at “social justice" and becomes "primarily a redistributor of income." It is bound to lead back to socialism and its coercive and essentially arbitrary methods”.
These thoughts of Hayek describe well what
George W. Bush refers to as “Compassionate conservatism”
Glossary of Terms (From the Online Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary)
Main Entry: anarchism Date: 1642
1 : a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be
unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on
voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups
2 : the advocacy or practice of anarchistic principles
Main Entry: bourgeois Date: circa 1565
1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the townsman or of the social
2 : marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a
tendency toward mediocrity
3 : dominated by commercial and industrial interests : CAPITALISTIC
Main Entry: capitalism Date: 1877
: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership
of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private
decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that
are determined mainly by competition in a free market
Main Entry: Chartism Date: 1839
: the principles and practices of a body of 19th century English political
reformers advocating better social and industrial conditions for the working classes
Main Entry: collectivism Date: 1857
: a political or economic theory advocating collective control
over production and distribution; also : a system marked by such
Main Entry: communism Date: 1840
1 a : a theory advocating elimination of private property b : a system in
which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2 capitalized a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism
and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the U.S.S.R. b
: a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian
party controls state-owned means of production c : a final stage of
society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and
economic goods are distributed equitably d : communist system
Main Entry: conservatism Date: 1835
1 capitalized a : the principles and policies of a Conservative party b :
the Conservative party
2 a : disposition in politics to preserve what is established b : a political
philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established
institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change
3 : the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change
Main Entry: deadly sin Date: 13th century
: one of seven sins of pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy,
and sloth held to be fatal to spiritual progress
Main Entry: democracy Date: 1576
1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b : a
government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and
exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of
representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government
3 capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of
Main Entry: pure democracy Date: circa 1910
: democracy in which the power is exercised directly by the people
rather than through representatives
Main Entry: democrat Date: 1740
1 a : an adherent of democracy b : one who practices social equality
2 capitalized : a member of the Democratic party of the U.S
Main Entry: fascism Date: 1921
1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as
that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the
individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government
headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social
regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or
Main Entry: freedom Date: before 12th century
1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity,
coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or
restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE c : the quality
or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous
<freedom from care> d : EASE, FACILITY <spoke the language with
freedom> e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken
<answered with freedom> f : improper familiarity g : boldness of
conception or execution h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of
2 a : a political right b : FRANCHISE, PRIVILEGE
synonyms FREEDOM, LIBERTY, LICENSE mean the power or condition
of acting without compulsion. FREEDOM has a broad range of
application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not
being unduly hampered or frustrated <freedom of the press>. LIBERTY
suggests release from former restraint or compulsion <the released
prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty>. LICENSE implies
freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of
freedom <freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license>
Main Entry: human nature Date: 1668
: the nature of humans; especially : the fundamental dispositions and
traits of humans
Main Entry: individualism noun Date 1827
1 a (1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be
ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the
conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals b : a
theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the
individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests; also :
conduct or practice guided by such a theory
Main Entry: Jacobin Date: 14th century
1 : DOMINICAN
2 [French, from Jacobin Dominican; from the group's founding in the
Dominican convent in Paris] : a member of an extremist or radical
political group; especially : a member of such a group advocating
egalitarian democracy and engaging in terrorist activities during the
French Revolution of 1789
Main Entry: justice Date: 12th century
1 a : the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the
impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited
rewards or punishments b : JUDGE c : the administration of law;
especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to
the rules of law or equity
2 a : the quality of being just, impartial, or fair b (1) : the principle or
ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or
ideal : RIGHTEOUSNESS c : the quality of conforming to law
3 : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : CORRECTNESS
Main Entry: left Date: 13th century
1 a : the left hand b : the location or direction of the left side c : the
part on the left side
2 a : LEFT FIELD b : a blow struck with the left fist
3 often capitalized a : the part of a legislative chamber located to the
left of the presiding officer b : the members of a continental European
legislative body occupying the left as a result of holding more radical
political views than other members
4 capitalized a : those professing views usually characterized by desire
to reform or overthrow the established order especially in politics and
usually advocating change in the name of the greater freedom or
well-being of the common man b : a radical as distinguished from a
Main Entry: liberal Date: 14th century
1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education> b
archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
2 a : marked by generosity : OPENHANDED <a liberal giver> b : given
or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal> c :
3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : LICENTIOUS
4 : not literal or strict : LOOSE <a liberal translation>
5 : BROAD-MINDED; especially : not bound by authoritarianism,
orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b
capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or
associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or
constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with
ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual
participation in government, and constitutional, political, and
administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives
Main Entry: liberalism Date: 1819
1 : the quality or state of being liberal
2 a often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism
emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of
Christianity b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom
from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating
market, and the gold standard c : a political philosophy based on belief
in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the
autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political
and civil liberties d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal
Main Entry: libertarian Date: 1789
1 : an advocate of the doctrine of free will
2 a : a person who upholds the principles of absolute and unrestricted
liberty especially of thought and action b capitalized : a member of a
political party advocating libertarian principles
Main Entry: liberty Date: 14th century
1 : the quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or
despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political,
or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice
2 a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant :
PRIVILEGE b : permission especially to go freely within specified limits
3 : an action going beyond normal limits: as a : a breach of etiquette or
propriety : FAMILIARITY b : RISK, CHANCE <took foolish liberties
with his health> c : a violation of rules or a deviation from standard
practice d : a distortion of fact
4 : a short authorized absence from naval duty usually for less than 48
synonym see FREEDOM
Main Entry: moral Date: 14th century
1 a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior :
ETHICAL <moral judgments> b : expressing or teaching a conception
of right behavior <a moral poem> c : conforming to a standard of right
behavior d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical
judgment <a moral obligation> e : capable of right and wrong action
<a moral agent>
2 : probable though not proved : VIRTUAL <a moral certainty>
3 : having the effects of such on the mind, confidence, or will <a moral
victory> <moral support>
- morally /-&-lE/ adverb
synonyms MORAL, ETHICAL, VIRTUOUS, RIGHTEOUS, NOBLE mean
conforming to a standard of what is right and good. MORAL implies
conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right
and wrong <the basic moral values of a community>. ETHICAL may
suggest the involvement of more difficult or subtle questions of
rightness, fairness, or equity <committed to the highest ethical
principles>. VIRTUOUS implies the possession or manifestation of moral
excellence in character <not a religious person, but virtuous
nevertheless>. RIGHTEOUS stresses guiltlessness or blamelessness and
often suggests the sanctimonious <wished to be righteous before God
and the world>. NOBLE implies moral eminence and freedom from
anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character <had the
noblest of reasons for seeking office>.
Main Entry: natural law Date: 15th century
: a body of law or a specific principle held to be derived from nature
and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to
Main Entry: Nazism Date: 1934
: the body of political and economic doctrines held and put into effect
by the National Socialist German Workers' party in the Third German
Reich including the totalitarian principle of government, state control of
all industry, predominance of groups assumed to be racially superior,
and supremacy of the führer
Main Entry: political economy Date: 1740
1 : ECONOMICS
2 : the theory or study of the role of public policy in influencing the
economic and social welfare of a political unit
Main Entry: politics Date: circa 1529
1 a : the art or science of government b : the art or science concerned
with guiding or influencing governmental policy c : the art or science
concerned with winning and holding control over a government
2 : political actions, practices, or policies
3 a : political affairs or business; especially : competition between
competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in
a government) b : political life especially as a principal activity or
profession c : political activities characterized by artful and often
4 : the political opinions or sympathies of a person
5 a : the total complex of relations between people living in society b :
relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as
seen or dealt with from a political point of view
Main Entry: populist Date: 1892
1 : a member of a political party claiming to represent the common
people; especially often capitalized : a member of a U.S. political
party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to
advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of
2 : a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people
Main Entry: progressive Date: circa 1612
1 a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress b : making use of or
interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities c : of, relating to, or
constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual
child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of
Main Entry: property Date: 14th century
1 a : a quality or trait belonging and especially peculiar to an individual
or thing b : an effect that an object has on another object or on the
senses c : VIRTUE 3 d : an attribute common to all members of a class
2 a : something owned or possessed; specifically : a piece of real
estate b : the exclusive right to possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing :
OWNERSHIP c : something to which a person or business has a legal
title d : one (as a performer) under contract whose work is especially
Main Entry: provenance Date: 1785
1 : ORIGIN, SOURCE
2 : the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or
Main Entry: republican Date: 1697
1 : one that favors or supports a republican form of government
2 capitalized a : a member of a political party advocating
republicanism b : a member of the Democratic-Republican party or of
the Republican party of the U.S.
Main Entry: right Date: before 12th
1 : qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that
together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval
2 : something to which one has a just claim: as a : the power or
privilege to which one is justly entitled b (1) : the interest that one has in
a piece of property -- often used in plural <mineral rights> (2) plural :
the property interest possessed under law or custom and agreement in
an intangible thing especially of a literary and artistic nature <film rights
of the novel>
3 : something that one may properly claim as due
4 : the cause of truth or justice
5 a : RIGHT HAND 1a; also : a blow struck with this hand <gave him a
hard right on the jaw> b : the location or direction of the right side
<woods on his right> c : the part on the right side d : RIGHT FIELD
6 a : the true account or correct interpretation b : the quality or state of
being factually correct
7 often capitalized a : the part of a legislative chamber located to the
right of the presiding officer b : the members of a continental European
legislative body occupying the right as a result of holding more
conservative political views than other members
8 a often capitalized : individuals sometimes professing opposition to
change in the established order and favoring traditional attitudes and
practices and sometimes advocating the forced establishment of an
authoritarian order (as in government) b often capitalized : a
Main Entry: sovereignty Date: 14th century
1 obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it
2 a : supreme power especially over a body politic b : freedom from
external control : AUTONOMY c : controlling influence
3 : one that is sovereign; especially : an autonomous state
Main Entry: stoic Date: 14th century
1 capitalized : a member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno
of Citium about 300 B.C. holding that the wise man should be free from
passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law
2 : one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain
Main Entry: syndicalism Date: 1907
1 : a revolutionary doctrine by which workers seize control of the
economy and the government by direct means (as a general strike)
2 : a system of economic organization in which industries are owned
and managed by the workers
3 : a theory of government based on functional rather than territorial
Main Entry: social democracy Date: 1888
: a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition
from capitalism to socialism by democratic means
- social democrat noun
- social democratic adjective
Main Entry: socialism Date: 1837
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective
or governmental ownership and administration of the means of
production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private
property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of
production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism
and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and
pay according to work done
Main Entry: Tory Date: 1646
1 : a dispossessed Irishman subsisting as an outlaw chiefly in the 17th
2 obsolete : BANDIT, OUTLAW
3 a : a member or supporter of a major British political group of the
18th and early 19th centuries favoring at first the Stuarts and later royal
authority and the established church and seeking to preserve the
traditional political structure and defeat parliamentary reform --
compare WHIG b : CONSERVATIVE 1b
4 : an American upholding the cause of the British Crown against the
supporters of colonial independence during the American Revolution :
5 often not capitalized : an extreme conservative especially in political
and economic principles
Main Entry: virtue Date: 13th century
1 a : conformity to a standard of right : MORALITY b : a particular
2 plural : an order of angels -- see CELESTIAL HIERARCHY
3 : a beneficial quality or power of a thing
4 : manly strength or courage : VALOR
5 : a commendable quality or trait : MERIT
6 : a capacity to act : POTENCY
7 : chastity especially in a woman
Main Entry: cardinal virtue Date: 14th century
1 : one of the four classically defined natural virtues prudence, justice,
temperance, or fortitude
2 : a quality designated as a major virtue
Main Entry: theological virtue Date: 1526
: one of the three spiritual graces faith, hope, and charity drawing the
soul to God according to scholastic theology
Main Entry: welfare state Date: 1941
1 : a social system based on the assumption by a political state of
primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens
2 : a nation or state characterized by the operation of the welfare state
Main Entry: Whig Date: circa 1680
1 : a member or supporter of a major British political group of the late
17th through early 19th centuries seeking to limit the royal authority and
increase parliamentary power -- compare TORY
2 : an American favoring independence from Great Britain during the American Revolution
3 : a member or supporter of an American political party formed about
1834 in opposition to the Jacksonian Democrats, associated chiefly
with manufacturing, commercial, and financial interests, and succeeded
about 1854 by the Republican party
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Presidents Bush and Roosevelt Compared
Coservatism and Liberalism
West and Militant Islam