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Populist movements are exciting; they are quintessentially "American" moments that validate our national mythos. This sentiment appears on both sides of the ideological divide.

Although they are an AstroTurf organization funded by the Koch brothers, the Tea Party believes that they are "of the people," and in turn represent the authentic voice of a disaffected silent majority.

Occupy Wall Street, a spontaneous, unfocused, sit-in movement, speaks for an aggrieved and upset public who are disgusted by robber baron gangster capitalism, and an ineffective government that has abandoned the Common Good to the interests of the American kleptocracy.

The Tea Party, and Occupy Wall Street, are united in a belief that their respective struggles are in keeping with the best traditions of American democracy and citizen activism. In all, they imagine themselves to be fulfilling the cornerstone values of American civil religion; moreover, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are (in their own eyes, and however problematic the assumption) ideal-typical examples of American exceptionalism in action.

While the former is more explicit in this regard (with their fetish-like worship of the Constitution and love of period regalia), both have embraced freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievance, as values which are central to their respective "movement cultures." Implicit here, is a belief that the framers of the Constitution would support their efforts and goals.

As it often does, and once more, history complicates matters.

The Constitution, while extremely radical for its era, is in many ways an anti-democratic document that is designed to subvert and prevent mass democracy. The framers represented a particular set of regional, economic, class, and racial interests. The Constitution was a compromise document that reflected those realities. For example:

1. The Constitution is an explicitly pro-slavery document which protected the interests of the Southern planters and those of the landed classes;

2. The Senate, founded as an American version of the House of Lords, was a representative body explicitly designed as a check on the House of Representatives. Senators would finally be subject to direct popular vote, as opposed to nomination, in 1913;

3. In order to exercise the franchise to vote, citizens had to be white, male, and own property, a requirement that would not be changed until the era of Jacksonian democracy. The practical effect of these rules was that a significant portion of the American public were ineligible to vote from the time of the founding through to the first decades of the 19th century (with white women being granted the right to vote in 1920);

4. James Madison and others expressed a deep anxiety about factions, the passions of a mass democratic public, and how infectious differences over property and wealth could usurp American democracy--and therefore ought to be protected against by the Constitution.

In total, the long arc of the American experience has been a broadening of rights, liberties, and freedoms, as well as the enfranchisement of whole categories of citizens originally left out of the Constitution's vision of democracy. Ultimately, mass democracy has meant working against the elite democracy imagined by the framers.

While certainly not possessed of a lockstep unity of belief on matters of public and social policy (this flattening of history and mythologizing of "the founding fathers" was a product of the 1950s and the Cold War), the framers were, in many ways, the "1 percent" of their era.

Of course, one needs to be cautious in reading back to a specific moment more than two hundred years ago and importing the framer's sensibilities to the present (What would they say about globalization? Would they be aghast that Corporations are now legal persons? How would they respond to an America that is extremely diverse and a global power?).

But, as Occupy Wall Street works in the best tradition of citizen-activism to reclaim the power of transformative, radical democratic action, it behooves us to ask just who the "1 percent" were in the past, and how their interests may (or may not) echo into the present.

Thus the question: What would James Madison, one of the most "elitist" of his peers, think about the 99 percent? What of the framers more generally? How would they respond to Occupy Wall Street?

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think Jefferson would of approved... (8+ / 0-)
    “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government...” ~Thomas Jefferson

    one of my favorites I stumbled on recently...
    “I have not observed men's honesty to increase with their riches.”~T.Jefferson

    “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by JMoore on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:32:32 PM PDT

    •  Indeed. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Jefferson: Aye!
      Hamilton: Are you fucking kidding me? Call out the Continentals!

      See "Rebellion, Whiskey."

      Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting. New video: The Lobbyist

      by Crashing Vor on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 05:23:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At least Hamilton was consistent (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RanDomino, Crashing Vor, JMoore

        Jefferson was one of history's great hypocrites that only a Mars retrograde-like argument can defend. And the excise tax against which the grain farmers rebelled was both lawful and reasonable (although not fair, since it wasn't assessed on richer farmers like Washington). I'd liken the WR more to the teabag movement than to OWS. Shays' Rebellion is closer to OWS IMO.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:37:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To take such a simplistic statement (0+ / 0-)

          about Jefferson as a staring premise - necessarily prevents any reasoned understanding of his contributions ... as well as his personal flaws.

          •  No less simple than people who dismiss Hamilton (0+ / 0-)

            as a lapdog for elites. It's actually your reduction of my brief comment about Jefferson that's simplistic, assuming that it's ALL that I think of him.

            Right back at ya, with compliments.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 11:37:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Missed one: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tofumagoo, JMoore, nicolemm
      "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws our country".

      Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting. New video: The Lobbyist

      by Crashing Vor on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 05:28:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is very complicated (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JMoore, nicolemm, Sinan

      in the end.

      If the founders can be said to have believed in anything, it was that success should be based on the actions of the individual, and not based on  that person's father.  Put another way, they believed that they should be judged on the content of their character.  This meant they opposed the idea of a nobility based on birth, but make no mistake, Jefferson and Adams both believed that there was a "natural aristocracy" among men.  Most of the founders agreed with them.

      If you read them there is a great deal of discussion about how government should develop virtue (this is particularly true of Franklin). Certainly self-reliance was a virture they believed in, but they also believed that extremes of wealth would lead to oligarchy, which was something they viewed as dangerous.  At different times even Adams and Hamilton both wrote about the danger that concentration of wealth posed to republican government.  Many also believed that inherited wealth was an evil to be avoided - Franklin supported taxes on inheritance for that reason.

      What is critical to note here is that they believed and wrote that the US did not have the extremes of wealth that were found in Europe because there was no nobility.  While they worried about oligarchy, I think they thought the development of one in this country would be unlikely, since there was no nobility in this country. The Transcendentalists to some extent also wrote about how the extremes of wealth were less here than in Europe.

      It is hard to draw a direct line to OWS or the Tea Party back to the founders.  A major part of American Exceptionalism was the belief that any man could acquire land (and in their time land was equated with wealth) for himself, and to a large extent this was true in 1800.  It was in fact just this that lead people to come to the US.  That this is no longer the case means that a central assumption of the founding fathers is no longer true, and it is hard I think to know what they would have concluded in the absence of that assumption.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 06:51:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very Thought-Provoking Diary (9+ / 0-)

    According to ThinkProgress

    NY Bureau Chief Of The Economist Visits Occupy Wall Street, Says Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Proud’ Of It

    Matthew Bishop, the New York Bureau Chief of the Economist, one of the world’s leading pro-capitalism business magazines, is currently visiting Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in Zuccotti Park.  He just tweeted that he finds OWS to be a “remarkably civilized and democratic affair” and that the Founding Fathers “would be proud”:

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam - A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

    by JekyllnHyde on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:33:13 PM PDT

  •  The Original Tea Party was all about OWS (10+ / 0-)

    No Taxation without Representation is essentially what we're fighting for now.  The Parliament/Congress is not representative of the people protesting, and that influence is apparent in the taxes and regulations.

    The reason the tea was being thrown into the ocean was because tariffs were made to favor the British East India company and other international corporations.  Protesters from both eras recognized that the trend was that taxes and tariffs were strangling new small and local businesses in favor of large corporations with the power to influence politics.

    So, in conclusion, although Madison may or may not support the protests, Samuel Adams would be holding free keggers in Z. Park.

    •  Well (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tofumagoo, ozsea1, rsie, wordfiddler, nicolemm

      Yes and no. One of the open secrets of the revolution that isn't taught much in schools is that people like Adams absolutely did not want representation in parliament, because that would kill their real goal, independance. That whole rally cry was manufactured to appeal to the masses, like death panels.

      The original tea party was agitprop intended to further alienate fence-sitting colonists against the British, and it succeeded. The revolution was a rich white man's movement that only later filtered down to the masses.

      OWS is a lot closer to genuinely populist movements like the Whiskey Rebellion (and even more so Shays' Rebellion), and the grange, progressive and labor movements of the late 19th century, than to the American Revolution.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:42:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Madison would be 100% in support of the concepts (0+ / 0-)

      and Samuel Adams would be critical of the lack of aggressiveness on the streets.

  •  I'd like to think some would (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor

    At least TJ (who was in France when the Constittution was written) and maybe Madison.

    The Constitution was written, in the spirit of compromise, with some flexibility.  States were to determine the qualification of voters.  States on their own gradually eliminated property qualifications and there was nothing in the Constitution to forbid a state from enfranching women or blacks.  Even the words "slavery" and "slave" do not appear in the Constitution, e.g. "three fifths of all other persons," "No person held to service or labor in one state . . . " and "The migration and importion of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit . . " the latter referring to the kidnapping of Africans for slavery, which the Constitution did allow to be abolished as early as 1808, when it was abolished.  Thus the Constitution did allow states to abolish slavery, which all northern states which had not already done so would do over the next few decades.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:42:55 PM PDT

    •  be careful (4+ / 0-)

      don't forget why the Equal Protection clause was needed, if we were so enfranchised we wouldn't have needed to be explicitly named.

      "Even the words "slavery" and "slave" do not appear in the Constitution, e.g. "three fifths of all other persons," "No person held to service or labor in one state . . . " and "The migration and importion of such persons "

      The slavery importation clause is another great example as well because that year was selected to allow Southerners and others to "replenish" their lost human "stock" who ran away and rebelled during the Revolutionary War.

      the framers explicitly intended your above reference to mean slavery. without having other context on your part, and thus reading any intentions, i always intervene when i see that allusion as it is a straw man often used by conservatives and others to deny how the document was a pro-slavery document that explicitly excluded black people as citizens.

      there is a ton of work on this matter, the book Civic Ideas, the Racial State, and the Democratic Problem of the White Citizen all eviscerate the flat version of the Constitution and the framers as men who were not invested in white supremacy. white by law and any of roediger' stuff here is great too.

      For kicks I tell folks to go read Jefferson's notes on the state of virginia if they have any doubts about his views on black Americans.

      •  No the 3/5ths languge was not intended (0+ / 0-)

        to refer to slavery - without using the word.

        It had absolutely nothing to do with approving, condoning, perpetuating, etc. the institution of slavery.

        The Committee assigned the task of finding a way to apportion taxes by State could not figure out an adequate way of doing so.

        The biggest problem was who/how to value the land of a state.  Making that more problematic - was it was not always clear what land a state owned.

        The language of 3/5ths in this context was not original to the Constitution - and was never debated or discussed on any principle whatsoever, particularly slavery, but was taken from EXISTING law on apportioning taxes ... when no feasible new system could be found or agreed to.

        •  now you are playing games (0+ / 0-)

          slaves could not vote, but they could be counted towards representation in congress....hmmmm I wonder what section of the country and who benefits from that arrangement.

          it only took a civil war to sort it out.

          you are really playing with confederate money on this issue. we can have a serious conversation, and should certainly more often, about the constitution as a compromise of realpolitik. it should not be deified. we certainly shouldn't pretend it is something, i.e. race neutral, when it clearly was not.

          •  No not games (0+ / 0-)

            First of all - the 3/5ths language came explicitly from taxation apportionment schemes under the Articles of Confederation.

            The Constitution merely tied representation to taxation.  So it has nothing to do with the right to vote.

            And the Constitution did not establish who had or did not have the right to vote (that pretty much negates your argument by the way).

            And you continue to falsely equate the 3/5ths with "slaves."  It was not a reference to slaves (alone).  The proper focus should be on "free men" - which you commonly mistake with most people as being the definition of a non-slave (and so everyone that is not a "free man" is a slave).  The 3/5ths category was not exclusively slaves - and all non-slaves were not "free men."

            And the concept of "free men" was established in English common law long before the colonies and long before the institution of slavery.

            •  sloppy scholarship and dishonest too (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              this is tiresome. you want to be a "scholar" be transparent. what are your motivations behind denying these simple facts? what is your deeper game and investment?

              a 1 second google search could help you--I don't want to get up and go to my library as this is so foundational and basic.

              from the well regarded digital history project:

              The Constitution was a document based upon compromise: between larger and smaller states, between proponents of a strong central government and those who favored strong state governments, and, above all, between northern and southern states. Of all the compromises on which the Constitution rested, perhaps the most controversial was the Three-Fifths Compromise, an agreement to count three-fifths of a state's slaves in apportioning Representatives, Presidential electors, and direct taxes.

              The three-fifths figure was the outgrowth of a debate that had taken place within the Continental Congress in 1783. The Articles of Confederation had apportioned taxes not according to population but according to land values. The states consistently undervalued their land in order to reduce their tax burden. To rectify this situation, a special committee recommended apportioning taxes by population. The Continental Congress debated the ratio of slaves to free persons at great length. Northerners favored a 4-to-3 ratio, while southerners favored a 2-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. Finally, James Madison suggested a compromise: a 5-to-3 ratio. All but two states--New Hampshire and Rhode Island--approved this recommendation. But because the Articles of Confederation required unanimous agreement, the proposal was defeated. When the Constitutional Convention met in 1787, it adopted Madison's earlier suggestion.

              The taxes that the Three-Fifths Compromise dealt with were "direct" taxes, as opposed to excise or import taxes. It was not until 1798 that Congress imposed the first genuine direct taxes in American history: a tax on dwelling-houses and a tax on slaves aged 12 to 50.

              The Three-Fifths Compromise greatly augmented southern political power. In the Continental Congress, where each state had an equal vote, there were only five states in which slavery was a major institution. Thus the southern states had about 38 percent of the seats in the Continental Congress. Because of the 1787 Three-Fifths Compromise, the southern states had nearly 45 percent of the seats in the first U.S. Congress, which took office in 1790.

              It is ironic that it was a liberal northern delegate, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, who proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise, as a way to gain southern support for a new framework of government. Southern states had wanted representation apportioned by population; after the Virginia Plan was rejected, the Three-Fifths Compromise seemed to guarantee that the South would be strongly represented in the House of Representatives and would have disproportionate power in electing Presidents.

    •  The constitution (0+ / 0-)

      did NOT determine who was eligable to vote - that was left to the states - as you correctly point out.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 06:25:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  History (Shay's Rebellion) answers that question. (8+ / 0-)

    They would have shot the Occupiers down in the street.

    Assent- and you are sane- Demur- you’re straightway dangerous- And handled with a Chain- - Emily Dickinson

    by SpamNunn on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:46:01 PM PDT

    •  Washington used the army to quell the Whiskey (5+ / 0-)

      Rebellion, as well, finding "too much democracy" to be a dangerous thing.  

      Assent- and you are sane- Demur- you’re straightway dangerous- And handled with a Chain- - Emily Dickinson

      by SpamNunn on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:50:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong on both counts (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LNK, Crashing Vor, ozsea1, fladem

      Neither Shays' Rebellion nor the Whiskey Rebellion were non-violent protests - they were both violent, armed insurrections.

      Washington opposed both insurrections. John Adams defended the British soldiers involved in another protest the Boston Massacre (and won, although he might have just believed in the right to counsel).

      Jefferson, in reference to Shays' Rebellion thought a little revolution now and then was a good thing and that "the Tree of Liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Jefferson was also a fan of the French Revolution, though not so much when it devolved into the Reign of Terror.

      Madison, at the time of the Federalist Papers, might have opposed either or both of the insurrections. At other times, Madison was more Jeffersonian in is view of democracy and "the mob".  

      It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

      by badger on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:07:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They both started as non-violent and escalated. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LNK, Matt Z, Crashing Vor

        Just like what is going on now.  

        Trust me.  Back then, people were very protective of their property rights.   No one would have been permitted to pitch a tent on the green and stage a noisy protest every day.  If they were asked to leave and did not, troops would have forced them from the green at the point of a bayonet.  

        Assent- and you are sane- Demur- you’re straightway dangerous- And handled with a Chain- - Emily Dickinson

        by SpamNunn on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:52:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Adams was a lawyer (0+ / 0-)

        It is true he defended the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre.  

        But a lawyer is not the same thing as their clients.  Saying he defended his clients is not the same thing as saying he supported the Boston Massacre.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 06:27:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was the principle of having a fair trial (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          John Adams took the case at the request of several influential friends who wanted to be sure that the British soldiers got a fair trial and weren't just legally lynched. Since they were his clients, he had to give them his best efforts, and he masterfully exploited every bit of uncertainty and contradiction in the available evidence (no videotapes back then). The upshot was that all but two were found "Not Guilty" of willful manslaughter (gross stupidity in a volatile situation wasn't one of the charges), and the other two had their sentences reduced to branding on the thumb (which left them scarred for life, but considering they could have been hanged it was a deal worth taking).

          Meanwhile, Samuel Adams exploited the situation to get all the British troops removed out of Boston proper to Castle Island in the harbor, where they would be available if needed but would not be a daily irritant to the already overly annoyed citizens.

          The whole mess is one reason why we have a Fourth Amendment - it wasn't just dreamed up because it sounded like a nice idea. Oh no, it was based on very real grievances experienced by the colonists, particularly but not exclusively in Boston.

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 09:24:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  jefferson and madison (9+ / 0-)

    Jefferson wrote about a government "paid for by the contributions of the rich alone" and madison wrote that taxes should be levied on the upper classes and aid given towards the lower classes towards a more equitable middle.

    Yeah, I think they both would applaud this movement. And, I am damned certain Thomas Paine would have.

    •  Jefferson wrote, in a letter to Madison, (5+ / 0-)

      of his approval of a graduated income tax based on ability to pay and also on distributing idle land to the poor for their subsistence use, based on his observations of the French peasantry and their treatment. Madison, nearly verbatim, reprinted Jefferson's positions in a newspaper article under his own byline.

      Jefferson also opposed primogeniture - the inheritance of an entire estate by the first-born male heir - because it led to the concentration of wealth, and he opposed concentrated finance in just about any form, including large corporations or a national bank.

      It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

      by badger on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:11:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jefferson opposed a lot of things in theory (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that he supported in practice, so always remember that grain of salt with him.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:45:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "It's OK if it's me"? How human of him. :-D (0+ / 0-)

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 09:27:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I realize that (0+ / 0-)

          His abstract thoughts were loftier than the earthbound body carrying them.

          •  Yeah, just ask Sally... (0+ / 0-)

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 11:35:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A recent book. . . (0+ / 0-)

              . . .points out that it is virtually impossible that Jefferson fathered any of Sally Hemmings's children. It was, more likely, his great nephew, if I recall correctly, who liked to visit often and also liked to fiddle and sing with the slaves into the evening. He would have carried similar DNA.

              When the DNA testing was done, only a partial strand was used since the process was very expensive. Techniques have been refined since then and the cost of such tests are much lower now.

              I wish I could recll the authors name. . .I saw him on a book talk show and he was most convincing.

      •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

        Several of your points I did not know and will have to further research. I like to be precise about these things because the wingnuts always love to quote the founding fathers, of whom they know so little. I love to be the burning thorn in their side. I wish all kossacks would do the same.

  •  A useful corrective... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LNK, Crashing Vor, ipsos, ozsea1 the facile invocation of the "Founders" whenever it suits. They were men (pretty much exclusively) who were products of their times, just as we are all products of ours.

    The whole notion of 'strict constructionism' and other spin-offs of this ahistorical notion are, thus, ridiculous. But try explaining that to the Tea Party folks in three-corner hats.

    Reading the news with Michel Foucault

    by Adelard of Bath on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:36:53 PM PDT

  •  a movement such as ows in their time... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor

    under the conditions prevalent at the time would have been most unwelcomed by the preponderance of the framers of the constitution.  the constitution was written to create a republic in order to preserve the economic and social order with the wealthier people at the top. a good resource to check out is woody holton's, "unruly americans and the origins of the constitution."

    i wonder from time to time what the founding generation would think of where we've come.  perhaps some of them would find what the 1% have done with their advantages somewhat odious.

    professional sanctimonious purist

    by joe shikspack on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:38:29 PM PDT

  •  Original tea party was about corporations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor

    getting favorable tax rates while local mom-and-pop businesses were paying full rate.

    Thom Hartmann on what the real Boston Tea Party was about:
    see also references and links:

    Summarized, with citations:
    "Boston Tea Party Hit Corporate Monopoly"

    "Historian Benjamin Carp’s latest project is a book on the Boston Tea Party, and he’s taking a global perspective"

    The British East India Company was the main purveyor of tea to Europe and to the American colonies. The company did business in Bengal, where it was blamed for making a devastating famine worse by hoarding rice, resulting in price increases.
    “The company was getting rich off Bengal and behaving poorly,” Carp says. “Americans knew about this and worried they would be next.”
  •  ALL Founding Father would be SHOCKED (7+ / 0-)

    about Wall Street and Big Business's "Corporate Personhood" and the extent of legalized bribery in the form of campaign finance laws and what they permit.

    Never mind what they'd think of the OWS movement....none of them favored full, direct democracy which is why they gave us a Republic (if we can keep it, to paraphrase Franklin).....They'd flip their wigs about the wealthiest Americans have undone The American Revolution in so many ways.

    Actually, the Founding Fathers wouldn't recognize the contemporary use of corporations, it's so far removed from the limited corporations they envisioned!

    Movement to Abolish Corporate Personhood:

    Dr. Ott explains that at the founding of America we made the mistake of letting some people be property. In 1886 Supreme Court let some property become people when corporations were granted Personhood. Americans fixed the founding fathers error and now it is time to fix the Corporate Personhood error and let people be people. Ultimate Civics.

    Dr. Ott's book, "Not One Drop"


    ~~CORPORATE PERSONHOOD. Thom Hartmann. Snippet:
    Excerpt from interview on one of my absolute favorite websites, (you can buy neat stuff from them too. The toffee is excellent):

    . . . . . the railroads began to try to influence or corrupt government to enhance their own power and profits.

    But government fought back. When Santa Clara County sued the Southern Pacific Railroad, that was the beginning of the end. It was actually a tax case, about whether the railroad had to pay property tax on the fence posts it owned along the right-of-way of its railroad through Santa Clara County, on the terms of the County's assessor or the State of California's assessor. The railroad argued that by having different tax rates in different states, they were being discriminated against under the 14th Amendment. This was, by the way, an argument the railroads had brought before the Supreme Court many times. It had always previously been rebuffed, sometimes in strong terms.

    For example, in 1873, one of the first Supreme Court rulings on the Fourteenth Amendment, which had passed only five years earlier, Justice Samuel F. Miller minced no words in chastising the railroads for trying to claim the rights of human beings.
    The fourteenth amendment?s "one pervading purpose," he wrote in the majority opinion, "was the freedom of the slave race, the security and firm establishment of that freedom, and the protection of the newly-made freeman and citizen from the oppression of those who had formerly exercised unlimited dominion over him."

    But in the 1886 case, we are told by over a hundred years' worth of history books and law books, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were, in fact, persons, and entitled to human rights, including the right of equal protection under the law -- freedom from discrimination.

    What was really amazing to me was that when I went down to the old Vermont State Supreme Court law library here in Vermont, and read an original copy of the Court's proceedings in the 1886 "Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad" case, the Justices actually said no such thing. In fact, the decision says, at its end, that because they could find a California state law that covered the case "it is not necessary to consider any other questions" such as the constitutionality of the railroad's claim to personhood.

    But in the headnote to the case -- a commentary written by the clerk, which is NOT legally binding, it's just a commentary to help out law students and whatnot, summarizing the case -- the Court's clerk wrote: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    That discovery -- that we'd been operating for over 100 years on an incorrect headnote -- led me to discover that the clerk, J.C. Bancroft Davis, was a former corrupt official of the U.S. Grant administration and the former president of a railroad, and in collusion with another corrupt Supreme Court Justice, Stephen Field, who had been told by the railroads that if they'd help him get this through they'd sponsor him for the presidency.

    I later discovered that the folks who run POCLAD -- the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy -- had already figured this out, and that there had been an obscure article written about it in the 1960s in the Vanderbilt Law Review, but it was, for me, like running down a detective mystery. So that was when the foundations for corporate power were laid in the United States, and they were laid on the basis of a lie.


    Unequal protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, by Thom Hartmann (A BuzzFlash Premium)

    Thom Hartmann bio:

    [I've met Thom Hartmann and I believe he'd say OK to this large a snippet from an interview the whole of which everyone should read. Really Important Topic!!]

    His books are very rich and satisfying, too.

    •  This (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, LNK

      I think that even Hamilton, who was by far the most Tory-ish and the most in favor of banks, business, and vested interests, would recoil in horror at what has happened in this country. I think if he were to see the state of affairs today he would probably be a lot like Paul Krugman. Paul Krugman isn't a leftist. He's an economist from Princeton. But he is a smart man who is clear headed enough to see when something isn't working and when something is going seriously wrong.

      Also, many of the things that Hamilton stood for would be abhorrent to the Tea Party and most of the 1%. He favored a tariff to encourage domestic industry (ironically enough, this was originally in part to HELP his wealthy friends), the use of taxation (he liked his taxes far more than Jefferson and Madison did, and was not shy at all about raising them), a strong central government (this was what the entire Hamilton-Jefferson pissing contest was about, as well as the Whiskey Rebellion and practically everything else that occurred during Washington's Administration), and the foundation of a national bank to regulate the currency. Additionally, he didn't much care whether there was enough gold and silver to back up the currency the national bank was issuing, confident in the belief that the promise of the United States government was sufficient (this alone would send the gold bug/Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party into a fit). He was also no racist, opposed to slavery, and would have been quite comfortable talking with Barack Obama about their college years as young men on the make and about international politics over a glass or two of sherry.

      He was still a complete and total ass in other ways, but in general I think even he would be disgusted with the Koch brothers and their ilk.

    •  The founders were a (0+ / 0-)

      VERY cynical bunch.  I doubt it would have surprised them at all.

      I think they would be furious - but surprised?  I doubt it.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 06:53:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the Founders were very rich men (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor

    George Washington was supposedly the richest man in the 13 Colonies.  If any of them ever wrote down what they thought of the Dutch Tulip Mania or the British East India Company and its wag-the-dog relationship with Westminster, we might get a sense of how they'd feel about Wall Street today.  Maybe they had very little to say and like libertarians today were focused on socio-economic theory and maximizing freedom at the margins: expecting to utterly dominate the new country economically if not politically.

    Their struggle against the colonial government parallels a similar struggle in Britain itself as wealthy commoners who owned agricultural estates or the early mines and factories sought representation and power in the face of a system that historically allowed them only to aristocrats.  Ironically, both groups saw themselves as rightful members of the ruling class rather than as champions of the masses.

    Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

    by Visceral on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 04:26:26 PM PDT

    •  this is an imporant point (0+ / 0-)
      both groups saw themselves as rightful members of the ruling class rather than as champions of the masses.

      you reach a certain economic position, whether by hook or crook, and you forget where you came from and forsake your roots.

      A sad and timeless story, told and re-told again and again and again.....

      Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." ~ Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

      by ozsea1 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:29:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OTOH they measured wealth in land, not income (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A lot of those big landowners, including both Washington and Jefferson, were continually scrimping to make ends meet because of lack of cash flow, and died essentially broke.

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 09:31:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  they still do that today (0+ / 0-)

          'Wealth' is what you own - land, a company, stocks and bonds, intellectual property (patents, trademarks, etc.), commodities, cash, and even your contracts with employees - while 'income' is the money that other people have to pay you in order to use what you own.

          The goal of wealth has always been to generate income, but agriculture has never been very good at that: you can only charge so much for bulk grains before you trigger famine and food riots, while most cash crops are really only useful to a comparatively small market of processors and manufacturers who have much larger profit margins selling finished goods to a much bigger group of people.

          Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

          by Visceral on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 12:31:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I can't believe that many or any were libertarians (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J V Calin, IreGyre

      The origin of that ideology was only developed by Adam Smith in 1776, at a time when Smith was a university lecturer in Scotland. While his ideas probably spread rather quickly, prior to the American Revolution and continuing for some time afterward, the default economic policy was mercantilism -- essentially, using the state to help develop and build the economy. It was a form of command capitalism; the most similar thing to it in existence today is probably the Japanese economy, in which government bureaucrats and businessmen work together to keep the economy steady and prosperous (or at least this is how it used to work). It is superficially similar to socialism, except that it is not done for the benefit of the working class; although they will enjoy some of the benefits, mercantilism maintains the class system, although it may also open it slightly.

      The focus of Hamilton was on building up the United States economically. If he had been a free marketeer, he would have done nothing, except keep taxes low and let things fall where they would. He had none of that nonsense. He deliberately set out to build a nation with a stable currency, a sound financial system, and a strong industrial backbone. Jefferson, to his credit, recognized the utility of this plan, even if he attempted to slow it down.

      •  They were not ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They valued LIBERTY equal with other principles such as equality - and in fact recognized both of these as subordinate to the general moral ends of government - within the context of which both should be viewed - of the common good and justice.

        Government's purpose, its end, was the two concepts.

        As for Adam Smith - he did not in any way develop this theory.  If those free marketeers ever bothered to read Adam Smith they would know, for example:

        1) That the invisible hand metaphor comes not from his economic work but his moral philosophy.

        2) That he did not believe in a "free" market - but only envisioned such a concept in the way a physicist envisions a "frictionless universe" - as an ideal model in which to study dynamics - after which you must PUT BACK that which you took out - to be able to study those dynamics in real practice.

        And most importantly:

        3) His Wealth of Nations was not a book advocating having government stay OUT of the economy - and against government regulation - but a book demonstrating why it was NECESSARY (and proper) for governments to regulate economies.

        •  A while late, but thanks (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks for the clarification of Adam Smith. I am beginning to think that very people actually understand what Adam Smith really believed and advocated, and I think I'll have to actually read the man's work myself just for the sake of really understanding it.

    •  Not all (0+ / 0-)

      First of all - not all of those considered generally in "the founders" were very rich men.

      Secondly - there was a "founding generation" that constituted the whole spectrum of wealth.

      But it is an unfortunate and damaging but common myth and misperception that the Constitution was written as an "economic document" to establish a government favoring the wealthy elite.

      That is simply not the case at all.

  •  First decades of the 19th century? (0+ / 0-)

    You mean 20th, right?  19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified in 1920.

  •  Yeah..You see this a lot. (0+ / 0-)

    People seem to not realise that the world was not always as it is now, that things change. My example?

    Look on the back of the dollar bill. Now what did you think the moment I said that? Conspiracy nutjob right? Right thats cause its what most peopel who would start with that request would end up with.

    In reality (and dont bother explaining this, they dont care) its the eye of providence, a catholic image of god, the triangle is a trinity (again, christianity) and people who claim to love america in these groups cant figure out why our currency would have the number "13" incorporated into it HINT: 13 colonies.

    But no, now they go "crazy crazy all seeing crazy satan crazy!"

    People are idiots and dont like finding out they're wrong.

    Another one? Someone asked a question about flouridiation of the water, and if we thought itwas a good idea. Well, whenesomeone pointed out the benefits, the poster immediatly edited their response and called the person an idiot for thinking it wasnt bad.

    A sane person would say "So if you already had decide don your positon, why did you ask the question? To yell at people? To validate your own beliefs?"

    People are idiots.

    The Reason why there are so many colors in this world...white, black, red, green, blue, that they can be mixed to create an explosion of new color! Boom!

    by kamrom on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:16:52 PM PDT

  •  Nice, sorry that I missed this earlier (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I agree with you. Having read the Federalist Papers (at least in part), I am certain that you are completely correct. While they used the populism of Tom Paine to generate support for establishing their economic control over the colonies, they backed away from him really damn fast once they had achieved what they wanted. I have found that while the ideology of the enlightenment was useful for propaganda purposes (Paine's Common Sense was essentially a radical Lockean argument; the Declaration of Independence was a Lockean document; but the constitution is not given the lack of universal suffrage and the maintenance of slavery in violation of Locke's natural right of property of all people in their own bodies to justify the extension of the franchise and abolition of slavery).  while the constitution could be said to be a social contract, the fact that its ratification was not by the majority but by the wealthy speaks against that interpretation (see Charles Beard on that).

    Moreover, the bill of rights was added after the ratification of the constitution to both maintain some of the gains of common law and also to address grievances against the British.  It is always impressive to me that the pre-eminent right acknowledged by the enlightenment, the right to life, was given such short shrift. Nowhere does the explicit right of subsistence appear in any document at the time (compare this to the French Rights of Man) to ensure the right to life; so why we supposedly have certain inalienable rights, the ability to ensure their pursuance or that the state would ensure such is not guaranteed.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:26:56 PM PDT

  •  Depends on whose lead he was following (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, Balachan

    Madison, for all his earnest brilliance, was in many ways a follower, not a leader, especially when it came to his lifelong mentor/svengali Jefferson, who convinced Madison to break with his Federalist Papers collaborator, Hamilton, with whom he shared many ideas such as judicial review and implied powers, and embrace many of the ideas that have passed down through the years and are now most manifestly represented by today's libertarians and teabaggers, namely limited government, low taxes, and strict constitutional construction.

    So would Madison have supported OWS? If he was listening to Jefferson (and he usually was from the early 1790's onward), then he probably would have supported it, because Jefferson was a huge supporter of similar protest anti-bank/government movements such as Shays' and the Whiskey Rebellions.

    But if he was hewing to his own more conservative nature, he might have opposed OWS, because it was an arguably unlawful occupation of private property that sought to influence policy outside the formal political system, by people whom aristocratic elitists like Madison felt unfit to participate in said political process, namely poor non-landholders of (to him) dubious character. I.e. rabble, whom most of the founders and framers feared and disdained.

    Our revolution was a paternalistic, aristocratic one, that was predicated on the belief that society's social, landed, monied and intellectual elites were best fit to run government and determne what was best for everyone else. Even man of the people Jefferson shared this belief in some ways, being opposed to universal suffrage. He liked populism in the abstract, but in practice he was very much a man of his class and time.

    So in the end, I suspect that while Madison might have sympathized with OWS and its tenets, in the end he would have opposed it as an actual movement, as a risk to law and order,, and sided with those who wanted it shut down.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:32:22 PM PDT

  •  I was not sure what to think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I thought that as a whole this was thought provoking but disagreed with the application of yesterday to today. While I agree the Constitution was written to protect the interest of an elite few. I disagree with the notion that OWS is trying to link back to any specific movement of a former time as the Tea party has done.  I think the OWS is about the here and the now and the application of constitutional rights as they exist within the context of today's society. Your Diary however is food for very good thought:)

  •  Come looking for answers... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ipsos, ozsea1

    ...and stay for the thought-provoking questions.

    The best kind of diary. Thanks.

    Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

    by razajac on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 06:50:44 PM PDT

  •  The framers were in one way or other (0+ / 0-)

    the one percenters of their time, it seems to me. I doubt they would have supported demonstrators against themselves. Just my two cents.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:11:10 PM PDT

    •  Which is to say, I agree with the diarist. lol. (0+ / 0-)

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:12:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is a misunderstanding (0+ / 0-)

      The EXPLICIT logic of the Constitution is designed to prevent ANY minority OR majority FACTION from ruling in their self-interest - and it hoped to ensure a government that sought and achieved in practice an existence more and more in accordance with the principles of the common good and justice.

      This was their EXPLICIT theoretical starting assumption.  That those two interrelated and interdependent ends are the SOLE legitimate ends of government.

      •  I'm a little slow on the uptake at the moment, (0+ / 0-)

        what does the constitution have to do with whether or not the framers would be supporting OWS?

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 04:08:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The principles and ideals - in part (0+ / 0-)

          - at least in terms of the structure/function and end of government - are laid out and established in the Constitution.

          Thus one can assume that it is a means of understanding what its "framers" would think about things.

          Who are the "framers" - is another question.

          Clearly James Madison is the principle architect.  So I think you can tell a lot about Madison from the Constitution - so long as you recognize what he did not approve or like in the compromises - and understand it from his fundamental starting point.

          There are generally two other groups that can be considered from those who were participants in drafting it - those who fundamentally agreed with Madison on all key points - and those who had much in common but had substantive objections to the idea of the National Constitution.

          Many of the latter compromised - but a few rejected it entirely.

          So we have to be careful in making claims for "the framerS" (plural).

          Then we can also look to others who were not in Philadelphia - who played a role in guiding what happened there - and also those who were instrumental on the ratification (and those who opposed the ratification - i.e. Patrick Henry).

  •  Some of the framers would have, some would not (0+ / 0-)

    I think the more politically savvy ones would have gotten out in front of the parade for their own ambitions, populism be damned.

    Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." ~ Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

    by ozsea1 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:34:51 PM PDT

  •  The Colonial elite were not today's 1% (0+ / 0-)

    The question of what James Madison or other Founding Fathers would do is, of course, open to speculation.

    But these landed white gentlemen, let us remember, were revolutionaries. And even if they did not themselves participate in street-level uprising, they sure as hell were friends of those who did.

    Not to broad-brush them as all one big happy family, but among the revolutionaries were your real ass kickers who, I might add, would NOT be welcome at OWS owing to tactics. Say, for instance, Samuel Adams. WHile OWS had a nice march along millionaires' row, Adams would have stirred da masses to pillage and then burn the mansions.

    James Madison, on the other hand, might not approve of OWS.

    So perhaps the question is: Which of the Founding Fathers would side with us?

  •  Framers Wouldn't Have Supported OWS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J V Calin

    We need to avoid turning these men of the 18th century into something they were not.

    As has been pointed out, the original framers, flowery language of the Declaration and Bill of Rights aside, were men of property.  Their vision of a republic run by men of property - white men of property - is much closer to the Koch Brothers than OWS.

    I would also question whether the term "revolution" really applies to what happened in 1776.  In many ways the social order was maintained - it was the supplanting of the British Imperial Elite order with an American Elite order.  Recall that before they made Washington President, many wanted him to become King.  And it was this American Republic of equality that maintained human slavery long past the point at which it had become illegal in Britain.

    It took not only a civil war but the civil rights movement a hundred years later for the USA to move past this vision.  We remain a work in progress.

    While we certainly should celebrate the very real accomplishments of the Framers, we should not try to imagine what they would think of events in 2011.  Most of what we deal with right now - globalization, social media, etc. - would be incomprehensible to them.

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:29:52 PM PDT

    •  I very much disagree (0+ / 0-)

      with you that they would have approved of the Koch brothers - who inherited their position.

      Inherited position was something they very much opposed.  They believed that position should be based on merit.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 06:56:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ideal V. Reality (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, in principle the Framers supported a Meritocracy.  In reality, they did not act in this fashion.  The "rights of man" were not extended to women, African slaves, indigenous, etc.  Nor were they extended fully to the poor, who continued to bear poll taxes and other infringements on their ability to participate as citizens.

        The genius of MLK in the 1960's was to take these promises of freedom and demand they be made flesh.  But to understand that, we have to accept that the true promises of 1776 were not fulfilled then nor are they fully realized now.

        "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

        by FDRDemocrat on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 12:36:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is all based on flawed premises (0+ / 0-)

      The framers were not all men of property - nor were they all acting out of their interests as men of property.

      Quite the contrary.

      This is a myth based on the fundamentally flawed premises (based on misreadings of Madison's tenth federalist) of Charles Beard's 1913 work An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution.

      •  Most were... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and the system they put in place was very 18th century.  We are dealing with people who supported a ruling elite based on race, sex and wealth.

        We can still admire them - they were men of their time, just as much as a flawed Lincoln deserves his accolades despite the warts of his sometimes-racist utterings.

        But let's not air-brush history.

        "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

        by FDRDemocrat on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 12:39:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good article by Simon Johnson and James Kwak (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kakumeiji maru

    in Vanity Fair this month. The authors, who blog at The Baseline Scenario, assert that Hamilton learned much at Washington's side during the Revolutionary War. He learned that wars cost money... lots of money... lots of borrowed money. He learned that you cannot defend your nation's sovereignty without being able to borrow money and go to war... and you cannot borrow money without a good credit rating... and your credit rating depends entirely on your power to tax.

    The Whiskey Rebellion, in Hamilton's (and Washington's) view, was a direct to America's independence from the great powers, England, France and Spain. That's why it was put down so decisively.

    David Brin posted  a great Diary on The Founders last Friday. It's a broad discussion on class and history, but here's the kicker:

    Hold onto your seat, because I'm about to tell you something about Washington and the others that you never knew... that they were "levellers."

    The founders started by banning primogeniture, so no family fortune could sit and accumulate, undivided, as a lordly demesne at the pyramid's peak. Instead, they would get divided among the large numbers of children that folks had then -- an intentional act of "social engineering" and outright "levelling" and don't you for a moment think otherwise!  They also seized the assets of the Tory lords and even neutral absentees and distributed them to the masses. And they made homesteading easy, with laws that favored Yeoman citizens. (All right, some of the lands they seized belonged to native American tribes - I never called these guys perfect, just smart, with a goal of not repeating the historical mistakes they loathed. Sure, they proceeded to make others.)

    Never heard of these "levelling" acts by the founders? Heck, even liberals have forgotten them. Or they've become used to simply ceding Washington and Adam Smith to the blustering right, without even putting up a fight.

    Wall Street has become a new Aristocracy. It's easier to join than the 18th Century nobility of England. All you gotta do is make a million dollars selling pizzas, swear fealty to the "investor class", and you're in. But the aristocratic impulse to use wealth to create power, and power to create wealth, is alive and well in the 21st Century.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:51:40 PM PDT

    •  Exactly right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J V Calin

      For a while I hated Hamilton. I thought he was some elitist, wealth-loving snob. He was that, a little. But he was also a very smart man. There is a philosophy attributed to him, that he didn't think eliminating greed was possible, and so he was only concerned with controlling it and channeling it, like a river, to serve the common good. Sure, bankers and investors and industrialists benefited handsomely from his policies; but in his view this was only fair, since they had a lot more to lose. There was no federal deposit insurance back then, and the government was less able to arrange bail-outs then than they are now.

      It's useful to remember as well that while we think of Hamilton as a quintessential elitist, he was actually born an outsider. He was the bastard son of a Scottish expatriate and a Huguenot woman, born on a flyspeck in the Caribbean. He was dirt poor. He had nothing when he came to New York, except a lot of smarts and a lot of brass. He managed to get himself into King's College (which is now called Columbia University), and made something of himself there. He proceeded to make something of himself by joining the Continental Army as an officer.

      It always mystified me why Hamilton joined the Continental Army. Indeed, he was so Tory-ish in his political views, even in his youth, that it made no sense at all. But now I understand why. Despite his intelligence and fine manners and the fact that he'd gone to a fine college, the ruling class of the time would never have let him join them. He would always be an outsider, the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler and a French whore (the Scots at this time were almost universally hated by the English, and were in some cases viewed as subhuman). And the aristocracy that ruled America at that time would never have wasted an opportunity to remind him of where he stood in the pecking order. The most important thing to understand about Hamilton is his ambition. Even as a boy, he wanted to be more than he was; and the social order at the time would never have permitted him to achieve what he achieved, or anything else of a similar nature.

      Simply put, he joined the Revolution because it was his only way up. And as much as Hamilton disliked "the mob" (perhaps because it reminded him too much of the poverty of his youth), I don't think he would have set up so many obstacles to doing what he had done as the wealthy of today are setting up.

      TL;DR The 1% are the Tories of today. One need not be a Jeffersonian to hate Tories.

  •  Some would, and some wouldn't (0+ / 0-)

    As much as I like and appreciate Alexander Hamilton in general (he was a singularly intelligent man, and even something of a visionary), he would probably have ultimately sided with the banks and the 1%. On the other hand, however, if he were still around, he might have become disgusted at the graft and corruption and feasting at the public expense that the banks have engaged in. He would despise the Tea Party to the core, and would equally despise the no-tax, drown-government faction of the Republican Party. While his instincts in his own era would have been squarely with the emerging industrial, commercial, and banking class, if he were to see the state of affairs today he might very well be disgusted at the monsters that Wall Street and big business have become. Even he agreed that Wall Street needed to have rules, and that it was no good at all turning it into a gambling parlor.

    Franklin would almost certainly be with us. While he was a man of wealth and means, he never seemed to be overly attached to his fortune, and while he had no desire to revert to it, he seems never to have forgotten the fact that he had been a nobody once. He was one of the leading men in Pennsylvania, a state full of radicals.

    Washington would probably have been a quintessential moderate. He would probably have liked to have found a way to solve the problem (or at least ameliorate it) while doing as little as possible. As a head of government, he seems to have been every inch an incrementalist. Like Hamilton, however, he would likely have abhorred the flagrant disregard for the law and basic human decency exhibited by the worst of Wall Street and big business.

    Hard to say, really.

  •  I love this site (0+ / 0-)

    what a great discussion! Thank you all.

  •  "unfocused" (0+ / 0-)

    Don't accept uncritically the criticism of the occupist movement.

    I think the focus is clear - anger at the farce the passes for democracy and the way it has been used to serve interests that are damaging to most of society.

  •  economic interests (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J V Calin

    fueled the colonial rebellion in the 1770s - a combination between the northern colonies' shipping business, and the southern colonies' desire to export their products, led to the break w/ Britain.

    the break occured when the colonials realized that the game was stacked against them, they couldn't make a profit on their exports, they were only allowed to sell their products to Britain, they weren't allowed to trade on the open market.

    our founding fathers, such as George Washingtion, and other land-owners in the southern agricultural colonies, found themselves at risk of bankruptcy in the face of price controls on their exports, which where controlled by London bankers. similarly, New England ship-owners were only allowed to trade w/ other British ports, but they realized they could make better profits by trading w/ other nations.

    the roots of the american revolution weren't so much the 'taxation w/o representation' that we've been taught - it began when the most powerful economic interests in the colonies (those w/ the most to lose) found themselves at odds w/ the British empire's restrictive trade policies.

    i think it's a bit ingenuous, to attribute the american colonies' revolution to a purely ideological idea. sure, the 'Rights of Man' were an important part, that helped unify the colonies' revolt.

    but don't overlook the fact, that the basis of our revolution gained major traction when the movers & shakers of the time (land-owners & ship-owners) realized that they could no longer make a profit under the existing system.

    in fact, they realized that the game was rigged against them, to the point that they decided that a revolt against the existing system gave them a better chance of economic survival, than continuing to accept their existing situation.

    their idea of revolt informs the members of the OWS movement, in a particularly 'american' way. that is, are you better off by acquiescing to your current situation, or do you think that by revolting against the current system, you might possibly be better off?

    •  Sam Adams got John Hancock's ear that way early (0+ / 0-)

      Hancock was a merchant who was running into the problems mentioned above, and Adams kept noodging him about how unfair it all was. End result: rich "1%er" became a "class traitor".

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 09:39:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know what they (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J V Calin

    I know what they would have done to a president who lied to get his country into a war.  

    I also thank the one who rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic so those on board ship could get a better view of the iceberg.

    by NyteByrd1954 on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 07:15:47 AM PDT

  •  Shays' Rebellion was OWS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There was an OWS protest movement in post-revolutionary America.  It was called Shays' Rebellion. And it was crushed with military force by Washington and Hamilton with the support of all the founders!

    Shay was a Revolutionary War vet from western Mass.  He and others complained about mounting taxes on the poor, the demand to pay these debts in gold or silver they didn't have and that banks were foreclosing on farmers and homesteads in the area (and throughout New Engalnd) who couldn't pay up.  Sound familiar?  They raised a local militia to resist which was eventually crushed.  That was in the winter of 1786-87.  

    Shays scared the Founders to their core.  The rebellion was one of the main motives for calling for a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787.  The document crafted there -- the 1787 Constitution -- our constitution was designed specifically to make it difficult for people like Shays to find a voice in the government (faction will check faction).  When Madison's calls in the Federalist Papers for the protection of minority rights he means rich, wealthy white guys -- not the Shays of the world.  

    No, I don't think the founders would have approved of OWS at all.  They would have been horrified by it!

  •  Correction #1 (0+ / 0-)

    It is not accurate that the Constitution is pro-slavery - let alone explicitly so.

    The Constitution does not - and was unable to - address the issue of slavery which was left to be resolved at another time.  (As it eventually was).

    There is no explicit support for the institution of slavery in the Constitution.

    There is at most a postponement of the issue to be dealt with by the newly established government.

    The one area commonly cited with regard to references to slavery is the 3/5ths language for apportionment of representation and taxes.  

    But this merely reflects an existing institution - not its endorsement - and it was based on then existing law for determining said apportionment.

    •  Sorry...1787 Constitution WAS pro-slavery (0+ / 0-)

      I am on my may out the door with the kids so don't have time to respond fully...BUT there is a mountain of scholarship by historians making the rather clear case that the 1787 Const. was a pro-slavery document.  There are numerous clauses where slavery was directly defended or protected

      ...threat against domestic insurrection

      ...3/5th clause ... which gave the South a huge boon in terms of proportional representation in Congress.  

      The question in Philadelphia in 1787 was not to have slavery or not have slavery but HOW should the new nation have slavery.  How ought slavery be incorporated into the new nation?  

      I think the historical record is pretty clear on that score.

      •  As a Constitutional Scholar (0+ / 0-)

        I can tell you that in no way was the Constitution explicitly pro-slavery.

        As for the threat against domestic insurrection - that has no direct bearing on the issue of slavery.

        As for the 3/5ths clause - as I stated - it was based on existing law to determine the difficult question of how to apportion TAXATION.

        It had nothing to do with the issue of slavery - other than the historical fact that at the time slavery existed and thus, in part, (Because "all other persons" does not only include slaves), provided a means to come up with a sloppy compromise on this issue.

        The committees of the Convention never considered this as related to slavery - NOT ONCE.  And it was simply decided to adapt an existing law proportioning the taxes - so as to solve that question.

        And no - the question in Philadelphia WAS NEVER "how to incorporate slavery" into the new nation.

        I challenge you to actually READ the debates in the Convention and find ONE SHRED OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE that could support this.

        The historical record is NOT clear on this at all - it actually is what I am basing my statements on.  What you are referring to are common myths and misperceptions that have been promulgated and spread in the 20th century.

        •  To aid your study (0+ / 0-)

          Here is a link to the records of the Convention in Philadelphia.

          If you actually read through them all - you will not find ONE SINGLE INSTANCE of the discussion of slavery being in any way considered as significant in the design of the Constitution.

          •  you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

            just because they took it as a standing issue, does not mean that it was not significant.

            i seem to recall many arguments in the convention, the famous quote about allowing slaves to be counted towards apportionment would be akin to non slave holders getting to count their tables, chairs, and mules...

            •  No - I think you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

              The issue of slavery was never directly taken up on the discussions of the Constitution - and more importantly - had nothing to do with the foundational draft, establishing its logic, by James Madison.

              As for recalling "many arguments" - how about quoting them.

              As for the "famous quote" about allowing slaves to be counted towards apportionment - how about citing this quote rather than assuming it was made.

              And no - it is not akin to that - not in that context.

              Furthermore you FALSELY assume the 3/5ths language is about "slaves."  

              It is not.  Because it is about "free persons" vs. OTHERS.  You falsely assume that the others are "slaves" - when in reality there were far more than just slaves in that category.  A non-free person was not a slave by necessity.  A "free person" was a legal concept independent of - and historically prior to - the institution of slavery.

              The language comes from a 1783 law that was proposed to apportion taxation under the Articles of Confederation.  It was generally considered to be the best solution to a problem that seemed otherwise without a solution - in terms of establishing a means to determine proportionate taxation by state.  

              If it could have been done by landed property - it would have - but there was no exact measure of the holdings, let alone value, of the property of the states.

              •  confederate money (0+ / 0-)


                "It is not.  Because it is about "free persons" vs. OTHERS. "

                who are these Others? Come on, be serious.

                •  Be serious? (0+ / 0-)

                  What do you mean - who are these "others"?

                  Do you not realize that far more than slaves were among the class of "non free" persons.

                  What do you believe was the legal status of an "indentured servant"?

                  •  of course i do (0+ / 0-)

                    but one does not preclude the other ("uncivilized" native American tribes counted too), and which was a larger category of people, and who were uniquely in bondage in a hereditary state in perpetuity, and the resolution of this pressing national matter would require a civil war?

                    interesting factoid: it was expressly illegal for free blacks to have white indentured servants as this upset "the commonsense" notions of race and hierarchy in 18th and 19th c. America.

                    Nell Irving Painter has a great anecdote about some white Germans who were indentured to a family of free blacks and the way that the white community rallied to "liberate" them.

    •  why so much (0+ / 0-)

      skin in the game of denying that the Constitution was pro-slavery?

      1. if they wanted to abolish slavery at the moment of ratification the framers could have at the convention...and didn't.

      2. the 3/5ths clause gave over-representation to a whole section of the country where slavery was the driving force of their economy, slaves were one of, if not, the most valuable capital item in the country.

      3. why extend the date of the slave trade some twenty years after the end of the revolutionary war? the war would have been a natural stopping point for the slave trade and perhaps even emancipation? the answer: as has been thoroughly documented, the planter class needed to replenish their labor supply.

      4. any analysis of this issue is incomplete without actually taking into account the attitudes of white elites and the white planter class about non-whites, and in particular, Africans. As I said above, check out any of Jefferson's writings on the matter. There is also a ton of research that clearly demonstrates the Constitution is a reflection of herrenvolk politics.

      5. the slave codes were established in many states around the turn of the 18th century. if the framers were so radical and anti-slavery, why did they not extend constitutional protections offered to whites to all americans, thus over turning laws that explicitly denied blacks and some indigenous people their rights, liberty, and freedom?

      6. again, as i said above, why the default to the lazy argument that the Constitution isn't pro-slavery because the word "slaves" does not appear in it? that always struck me as facile and juvenile because any reasonable person knows who "all other persons are."

      7. beard's book is still foundational. yes, there was debate about it in the decades that followed, but the central thesis still stands--even allowing for wood's critique--that the framers created a document that is a reflection of their particular class interests.

      8. now I must ask, do you believe that the Civil War was fought over slavery? Please say no as that will reveal a good amount of context for your attempt to intervene here....and will also be good fun.

      •  Why - becuase it simply is untrue (0+ / 0-)

        As for your points:

        1) It was neither pro nor anti slavery. Slavery had nothing to do with it.

        2) The 3/5th's clause's effects do not define its intent.  Furthermore it did not "over-represent" the South.  There was no uniform means of establishing representation.  In fact that was the system of proportioning taxes PRIOR TO the Constitution - which is why it was used.  It had nothing to do with slavery.

        3) Why extend the date - in your question you already overlook the real issue - that was a recognition that the issue of slavery needed to be dealt with at some point ... but that the Constitution was not the appropriate time and place (because then there would have been no Constitution and no Nation - you would have had either 3 independent nations or 13 - which is what  was being proposed (and what those who advocated the Constitution were explicitly trying to avoid)).

        4. There is plenty - too much - shoddy research in this area.  There is not a lot of quality material on this.

        5) Again - you keep conflating a claim (that I don't make) - that the Constitution was intended to be ANTI-slavery - with the claim that I do - that the Constitution had NOTHING TO DO WITH slavery.

        Why did it not abolish slavery?  Because it supported it?  No.  That is a logical fallacy.  Why didn't you stop Scott Olsen from being shot in the face last week? Because you wanted him to be?  It did not abolish slavery - because it was not intended to - and had nothing to do with the issue at all.

        6) My "lazy" argument is built on two decades of detailed scholarship in the area.

        7) Beard's book is not foundational.  It is fundamentally flawed.  He claims for Madison's tenth federalist positsion that Madison did not take - and was fundamentally opposed to.

        8) As for the Civil War - that is a simple answer.  No.  But it has nothing to do with revealing my context for attempts to intervene here.

        I am a Constitutional scholar who has spent two decades on these very issues.  To understand the logic of the Constitution - and what has gone wrong in practice.

        •  as a "scholar" (0+ / 0-)

          you have lost all credibility with this claim:

          "8) As for the Civil War - that is a simple answer.  No.  But it has nothing to do with revealing my context for attempts to intervene here."

          Just read the statements of secession from the individual states, and of course the VP of the confederacy, where they explicitly state that white supremacy and the protection of slavery are the core issues they are leaving the Union.

          And also, the document is pro-slavery when it protects the slave trade, and allows a condition that should be against the very tyranny that the framers stood against (funny too, they used the language of "slaves" and "slavery" to define the justness of their struggle against the Crown).

          Again, why the skin in the game?

          So those folks, Rogers Smith in particular and his work Civic Ideals are just wrong? What of the book Mind of a Master Class, just wrong?

          As a scholar please tell me how you are intervening in the literature, and against what consensus?

          We can argue nuance and details, but there are no serious folks who I am aware of in this day and age who do not see the Constitution as a compromise document that protected slavery and was written by folks who understood a proper democracy to be one that was racialized.

          •  Have I? (0+ / 0-)

            The Civil War issue does not impact my evaluations of the Revolutionary War.

            But as for the Civil War - it was a war fought over principles of sovereignty and governance.  It was also a war brought on by economic factors.  Incorporated within all of that - as one part - but not the major part - was the existence of slavery.

            But that does not make the Civil War a war over slavery.

            In fact slavery does not become directly associated with the war until Lincoln makes it so to garner support - in a Nation that generally DID NOT SUPPORT - for the war.

            Because in the BACKGROUND CONTEXT there was a struggle over slavery going on prior to the Civil War.

            But it was NOT going on in government.  That issue was - probably the core reason why it ended up with a Civil War - kept off the table by the party-dynamics and party interests of the day.

            In fact it is that aspect that we should perhaps be learning from history about - because it directly applies to today's issues.

            As for "no serious folks" - I don't know any serious and credible "folks" that view the Constitution as explicitly about slavery IN ANY way - let alone as a compromise document.

            And I certainly know of nothing that can support the last phrase about a "racialized democracy" being a general principle generally recognized.

            •  slavery was central to the civil war (0+ / 0-)

              we can fight over it as part of a bundle of issues, but the driving narrative was over wealth, sectionalism, and race.

              you can wrap that up in language about party failures and representation. but the driving issue, the state's rights rhetoric, and the very words of the parties involved on the slaveocracy's side clearly demonstrate that race and white supremacy were driving elements in the confederacy's seceding.

              it would make sense, no? human property was the number one capital good in the country. of course, the south would fight and die to protect it, the psychic wages of white racism and whiteness aside.

              •  Slavery was inseparable with the times (0+ / 0-)

                but it was not the cause (in both senses of the word) of teh war.  It neither caused the war - nor was it the cause that those who fought the war went to war to fight for.

                •  read (0+ / 0-)

                  what the folks "who are part of the times" actually said about slavery. give them the agency of their own words.

                  that is another lazy, straw man argument too that I love, "they were a product of their times" who supported a foul, destructive, evil system that killed millions of people for the enrichment of one class of people over another.

                  it is lazy because it ignores that people "of those times" saw slavery for what it was and advocated for its elimination.

                  the perpetuation of slavery was a choice by white elites for material, psychic, economic, and political reasons.

        •  also (0+ / 0-)

          "4. There is plenty - too much - shoddy research in this area.  There is not a lot of quality material on this."

          please, what shoddy research? that is a straw men, for when the research doesn't validate our priors, we diminish it!

          again, what did Jefferson in his own words write in Notes on the State of Virginia?

          •  You ask me? (0+ / 0-)

            You raised the claims to "plenty of research" - shouldn't you be providing it.

            I have started with the FOUNDATION of it - because nearly all the rest builds on its flawed premises - by citing Charles Beard's Economic Interpretation of the Constitution.

            As for what did Jefferson say in his own words in the Notes on the State of Virginia - let me ask you two questions:

            1) What did Jefferson say on the issue at the Constitutional Convention - if you want to claim that Jefferson's words elsewhere somehow prove something about that document?

            2) What did Jefferson say on the issue in the Declaration of Independence?

            •  i did (0+ / 0-)

              look above.

              Mills is wrong? Smith is wrong? Hahn is wrong? Roediger is wrong...his newest book on race and American history is very good btw, you should check it out. John Hope Franklin, one of the country's greatest historians who also wrote on this issue is just wrong?

              So we have historians, political scientists, philosophers, and legal studies types saying, "hmmmm there is something up here, a "democratic" document is produced in a moment when democracy and citizenship were racialized, gendered, and class based? Magic! maybe those understandings are somehow represented in the type of political document they crafted?"

              So profound. Why deny this?

              You go hard on Beard, but you miss the counter-argument that has been made by many folks smarter than you or I, that he may have been off in his narrow argument about causality because of his materialist orientation, but he was not wrong in the basic idea that the ideas about freedom and citizenship and democracy expressed by the framers and the elite class were a reflection of their material positions in society.

              You are constructing a straw man in Beard in order to try to rebut a very basic premise: the Constitution is a practical document, however imperfect that was radical for its time but that reflected the interests of the people who made it.

              This should not be so unsettling for a "scholar".

              Are you part of the fetishize the "founders" club? They were just men, smart, but just people, not gods.

              •  The idea that democracy was racialized (0+ / 0-)

                is - in my view - scholarly nonsense.  But then again - probably 3/5ths or more of scholarly literature these days is nonsense.

                We will have to leave it at that.

                •  so folks who are more (0+ / 0-)

                  highly regarded than you, are tenured, have won book awards, and really know this literature are playing with "nonsense?" Disagree based on research, empirical findings, theoretical rigor, and hard work, don't reject claims just because you don't like them.

                  but at this point you are really showing your butt!

                  I am right, there is something deeper in this game for you.

                  Check out some of Goldberg's work. And come on, you have a country that has to explicitly write in black folks with the equal protection clause, then fight Jim and Jane Crow, and finally pass the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts and you say American democracy was/is not racialized.

                  You sound like a narrowly (and poorly trained) legal studies type, given that "scholarly bent" check out the book White by Law which looks at how immigration law and the notion of white group membership was litigated and changed over time. America has historically, in its law, defined citizenship as being limited and bounded by whiteness. Non whites in fact, were not even allowed to become naturalized citizens for most of this country's history up to the 20th century.

                  •  What do you know about me (0+ / 0-)

                    and my scholarly work?

                    What - of all things - does TENURE have to do with it!?  Do you know the politics of tenure?

                    What does a book award have to do with it?

                    I have not placed my work along side of those you refer to.

                    As for narrowly and poorly trained - My doctorate work is in Law from University College London and in Politics from the University of Florida.  I have an LL.M. in Legal History and Jurisprudence from University College London.  An M.A. in Legal History and Jurisprudence (with distinction) from University College London.  An M.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.  B.A.s in Philosophy, History and Political Science from the University of Florida.  And a B.S. in Microbiology from Auburn University.  I have a Law Teacher's Certificate from University College London.  And I have taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses in law and political science/theory at University College London and the University of Florida.

                    You want to put your C.V. to the test?

                    •  yeah, i looked you up (0+ / 0-)

                      and yes, book awards have a good amount to do with it. they are an acknowledgement of one's work, their relationship to the discipline and respect by peers.

                      if i have to take your view that democracy in america is "not racialized" versus Roger Smith's it is an easy choice.

                      if i have to take your claim that the civil war was not primarily about white supremacy and slavery versus morgan  it is an easy choice.

                      in fairness i would take them over most, myself certainly included, any day. i am aware of this fact and difference, you appear not too.

                      your arguments here are dishonest and selective. we call that piss poor scholarship. this is why i keep asking you what skin do you have in this game, why deny the obvious? your claims can intimidate and bully neophytes and lay people, but for folks who know a little more than the average bear, they are easily exposed.

                      i do hope that you do not bring such selective insights into the seminar room, as that would be unfortunate for your students.

                      i didn't announce myself as a "scholar" you did. thus, you have to carry that burden.

                      trust me, i would put my vitae against yours any day. this isn't a pissing contest, until you made it one.

                      your claims are thin, moreover, please respond to the cites i listed above please, the georgia articles of secession, loewen and morgan, etc.

                      •  Well you can believe what you want (0+ / 0-)

                        as regards to my arguments being "dishonest" ... and all the rest.

                        I would have to disagree with many of your criticisms.

                        And I didn't make it a pissing contest.  You were the one demanding "qualifications" to make statements - and then made assumptions about my education.

                        I'd suggest you are taking this too personally - and spend most of your time on ad hominems.

                        But I think we have gone through this enough.

                        •  this is fun (0+ / 0-)

                          you have never answered any of my questions or interventions. i didn't make assumptions about your education, i wondered who trained you and how then could be making the claims that you were, given how poorly evidenced they are.

                          this is personal because it is about the truth. when you misrepresent something as important as the constitution to folks you are trusted with teaching, it is personal and important. when we minimize the role of racial inequality in this country's history and government and society it is personal.

                          much of the mess in this country now is caused by a failing educational system and a process wherein all opinions are elevated to fact, however specious. we have fools running for President who believe that America was founded as a Christian Nation because some hack historian told them so. This is very worrisome.

                          your arguments are dishonest and intentionally overlook any of the strong counter arguments or evidence to the contrary.

                          they are also poorly structured and reasoned--esp. in regards to the 3/5th clause and America as a racialized democracy.

                          If you are a scholar as you pretend to be--note, never announce yourself as a scholar of anything, that is tacky and invites attack because most folks who are the real deal don't go around announcing it--go do some more reading and track down some of the books I suggested.

                          I can give you an exam list if you like. It will be like doing your comps again.

  •  Correction #2 (0+ / 0-)

    The US Constitution was NOT an "economic" document - a document designed to protect and privilege the interests of the few - as was argued originally by Charles Beard in 1913.

    Beard's scholarship, although in many ways important, in this particular area is fundamentally flawed and in particular based on an explicit misreading of Madison's tenth Federalist paper.

    Read fully and properly Madison's arguments against factionalism (and thus parties) were to prevent ANY faction, whether a minority or a majority, from ruling in its particular interests - and instead to seek to find a means whereby a stable and long-standing form of government could be found to exist that would seek as its end exclusively the common good and justice - the moral ends of government.  [By Beard's time - and more so into the first half of the 20th century - the "scientific" school of politics removed this normative/moral dimension from the discussions about either the US Constitution or democracy - thereby distorting and denuding them both].

    These included factions of all sorts not just economic - but it was recognized that one of the most pernicious and predictable factional source would be in the economic sphere.

    The goal of the Constitution, structurally and logically, is the NEGATE the EFFECT of factions (all factions).

    Beard's assumption was that a majority party was the necessary and only means for the "working classes" to control government.  Not only is this not the intent of the Constitution (nor its antithesis - to have the "aristocratic classes" to control government - it was to prevent ANY class or group or faction - regardless of size - from controlling the government in its factional/particular interests - and instead to have a government which had its sole aim at the common good and justice) - but it is a false assumption - proven extensively over the past 30 years with Republic majorities controlling government.

  •  Correction #3 (0+ / 0-)

    The Senate was NOT modeled in any way on the House of Lords.

    The only resemblance to the English Constitution was in the GENERAL principle of bicameralism as a means of preventing factional rule in the self-interest of the factions rather than the common/public good and justice.

    The Senate was simply to be a counterpoint to the House - in terms of its composition and nature and dynamic - based on how it was to be elected and for what terms.

    By having this body elected for longer terms than the House it was hoped that the body would be freed from the particular "winds" of the moment - and would subject issues to more rational deliberation.

    By being a smaller body - it was to be less "representative" (the primary function of the House) but more "deliberative."

    There is also the historical anomaly - that was not in line with the original logic and idea but forced by necessity - that the Senate was composed by State with equal representation thereof.  This was strongly opposed by those who "designed" the architecture and logic of the Constitution - such as Madison - who only reluctantly (and in Madison's case very strenuously reluctantly) had to concede to this point if the document was going to make it through the Convention before the Convention broke up with no outcome.

    •  By the way (0+ / 0-)

      State factionalism was one of Madison's primary concerns - and one of the principle reasons for convening the Constitutional Convention - which was articulated shortly before in his Vices of the Political System.

      •  I would argue that the Senate was established to (0+ / 0-)

        represent "territory" while the House was created to represent "population".

        This is pretty analogous to the House of Lords and Commons. The English nobility controlled territory; they enjoyed a degree of sovereignty and judicial power within their domains. They also had influence in the administrative affairs of their county.

        I'm sure that the Founders were adamantly opposed to peerage, but the notion that land ownership conferred exceptional political status must have been unquestionable to the southern planters.

        Today, "territory" consists more of capital assets than land. Political power is more widely dispersed. But the attitude of "territorial" privilege still persists in the U.S. Senate.

        Have you noticed?
        Politicians who promise LESS government
        only deliver BAD government.

        by jjohnjj on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 11:32:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Senate (0+ / 0-)

          had a functional/logical purpose.  It was to divide the legislature so that one faction would not easily control that branch of government.

          Added to this it was to BALANCE the pros/cons of the other branch.

          One was to be more representative. (and thus large - although large back then was nothing like 435!)  The other more deliberative.  (and thus small)  One with quick recycling to keep it "in touch" with the people.  The other longer duration to enable it to be free from the political winds of the moment.

          Nothing about the particulars of the House of Lords was a consideration.  Only the fact that the English constitution provided a precedent (rather than a model) of bicameral legislatures.

          As for representing territory - as opposed to people - this was a later compromise (very much opposed by the architect - Madison) - for appeasing the minority (who would have abandoned the Convention otherwise).

          Madison very much opposed - on principle - this compromise - because his fear was factionalism (the logical underpinning of the "system" the Constitution was creating) - and the one form of factionalism that was causing the major problems (that led to the convention) was state-based factions.

          So the effect was to represent "states" rather than "people" - but it was not the design intent - but the place where they had to compromise.

          Actually it was barely acceptable to the minority - some of whom went with instructions to not allow ANY system of representation other than EQUALITY of States.  (See, ironically, the Delaware delegation - ironic because they pride themselves on being the COnstitution State - having been first to ratify - yet their delegates opposed the whole concept from the start).

  •  Correction #4 (0+ / 0-)

    It is also untrue that the Constitution established the conditions of having to be "white" "male" and a "property owner" to vote.

    The Constitution does not deal with this.  This was left to the individual State constitutions.

    And it is a common myth and misperception that at the time of the ratification those three qualifications were universal in the states.

    For example - at the time of the ratification in 1789 women had the right to vote in New Jersey.

    It was only in the period after the Constitution's ratification, at the time of the ascendency nationally of the Federalist party, that these kind of qualifications and restrictions became consciously adopted nationwide - as a means to restrict the franchise and limit participation to a few.

  •  Correction #5 (0+ / 0-)

    James Madison's views on FACTIONS - in fact the general view of all those with a scholarly background in his generation - was that party/faction was the "mortal disease" of all forms of government - and MOST PARTICULARLY to the "popular form" (democracy).

    The anti-factionalism of the Constitution - which is its PRIMARY design-motivation - is NOT to prevent "democratic" participation or the representation of the "working class" (masses).

    This is a MYTH built on the flawed scholarship of Charles Beard's Economic Interpretation of the Constitution - in which Beard misreads and reads into the Constitution things that Madison did not argue.

    The tenth-federalist lays out the fundamental logic - along with the separation of powers - of how the Constitution was designed to make DEMOCRATIC (popular) government VIABLE in the modern world.  And to prevent the "disease" which those from Aristotle through Madison (and into the 20th century - when this story was rewritten by liberal political scientists who did NOT approve of democracy ... but simply sought a party-elite, executive centered, form of government which would be electable by the votes of the "masses" (who were not actually, themselves, to rule - but merely be given the choice of who would rule them)) agreed - with reason and history on their side (and proven right in the history since then) - were the obstacles that would prevent such a form of government from succeeding for any substantial length of time.

    By combining "representation" of all with the "separation of powers" - it was assumed that factionalism's effects (rather than its causes - which could only be eliminated by eliminating liberty - a cure worse than the disease) would be NEGATED in practice.

    The problem was that the system of "representation" was never allowed to work as assumed - primarily because of the effects demonstrated by Duverger's Law in producing a two-player (two super factions) dynamic - with an exclusive monopoly - when using pre-democratic winner-take-all forms of elections (the study of election mechanisms only began AFTER the ratification of the Constitution).

    This was reinforced in the 20th century by scholars such as Beard - who were following a criticism of Walter Bagehot (who was a liberal who opposed the emergence of democracy in Victorian Britain - and proposed an executive centered national system based on the FUSION of powers as the way to establish "good" government without democracy) - and others from Woodrow Wilson through E. E. Schattschneider - in American Political Science - ... in their OUTRIGHT and EXPLICIT REJECTION of the Separation of Powers ... and as Schattschneider argued - built a two-party system (exclusively so) as a means to BRIDGE the separation of powers because they could not practically alter the Constitution formally.

  •  tom paine (0+ / 0-)

    would have loved it. madison not so much.

    well done!

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 12:46:38 PM PDT

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