Monday, April 20, 2009

Federalist #6

Quite some time ago (starting nearly 4 years ago I'm ashamed to say) I started a chapter by chapter summary of the Federalist Papers. It got away from me and I stopped after #5. And now I continue but you may want to read the first 5. I think this is a good time to start again. This is to remind people of the principles this country was founded on even if some of them were a bit flawed. Certainly there can be no perfect system of government in this world but what America has produced has been the best so far.

Federalist #1
Federalist #2
Federalist #3
Federalist #4
Federalist #5

Author - Hamilton

"To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance teh accumulated experience of ages."

I don't doubt at all that Canada and Mexico would be at war with us on occasion if the United States weren't so much more powerful than both of them. If the South had succeeded in breaking from the Union (as it should have been allowed to to d0) there might have been occasional wars there too. It's hard for us to see the history of Europe and them of it as a continent in conflict which it has been for most of its history. Now we only see it in light of current events with the EU and the Euro currency and France, Germany and England acting as if they've really just been like brothers punching each other in the arm rather than bitter enemies at constant war.

The unfortunate part of Hamilton's statement is that it takes government to for a cohesive union and government has an insatiable appetite for growth and power.

"The genius of republics (say they) is pacific; the spirit of commerce has a tendency to soften the manners of men, ad to extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled in to war."

Wouldn't that be nice? But it just isn't so. Men are sinners and subject to the same jealousies, and bad behavior as everyone else in any other kind of government. While it's true that a strong Republic is less likely to be manipulated and used to satisfy the blood lust of any particular group of men, we've seen that it's certainly possible. In fairness, Hamilton was making a point about what other man say the genius of a republic is and doesn't particularly agree with it. He goes on to point out that not every nation is perusing benevolent ends for it's people and so conflict will arise.

Please bear in mind that when he's speaking here of having several unions instead of one united republic, there were still only the 13 states and the outlying territories not yet created as states going out to about the Mississippi river. I'll leave it to your imagination to decide whether it would have been best to have our current union split in to several nations as states were added on.

"Let the point of extreme depression to which our national dignity and credit have sunk, let the inconveniences felt everywhere from a lax and ill administration of government, let the revolt of part of the State of North Carolina, the late menacing disturbances in Pennsylvania, and the actual insurrections and rebellions in Massachusetts, declare------!"

That doesn't sound entirely unlike what we have going today though we've yet to face any insurrection. I think we're on the verge of serious civil unrest.

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