Perhaps the single most sloppily applied political term, of this intellectually empty era of the thirty second sound bite, is that of Democracy. When Madison employed the term "pure democracy" in Federalist Paper #10 as
a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, he was referring to a form of Government, where numbers govern, and there is no cure for the mischiefs of faction. As he explained:
A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions. [By which last reference to "theoretic politicians," Madison, in effect, described the modern Communist theorist.]
Madison placed his hopes, rather, in a Republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. As he explained, The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.
He then went on to discuss the advantage he saw in the broad Union, being created by the Constitution, and the inevitable dilemma for a Republic:
The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.
Of course, it is Madison's "on the other hand," which despite his best efforts in our written Constitution, has largely come to pass. While Madison did not see the concept of pure Democracy taking on a trans-continental character in the face of the carefully crafted system of representative Government, which he and his associates proposed; he could not have foreseen the Century when educated, rooted, American Presidents would fight wars to make "the world safe for Democracy," as opposed to Liberty; or the instant possibilities for inflaming or misleading the public, made possible to the would be demagogue by the media of radio and television. He did not anticipate the moronic politics of the thirty second sound bite, or that species of loathsome toads who would seek power by its employment, with no respect for the solemn oaths that had been required of them.
In Madison's day, public officials actually aspired to measure up to the concept of the honorable man, whose patriotism was genuine, and who understood that a love of justice meant respect for a solemn duty accepted; not the indulgence of a Socialist ego, in remaking human Society, or seeking to impose theoretic new social norms. In his worst nightmare, Madison never saw the 20th Century concept of the mega-State Democracy, where the purpose of Government, itself, could be changed by the popular will, at any moment, by a counting of noses; with a communist-like total equality among the noses being counted, whether the individual brains behind them even understood the duties of the offices being filled, or the historic purposes of the Government being staffed.
While popular elections--with a reasonably general suffrage--may be employed to advantage in a Republic or Monarchy to decide who will be entrusted to fill various roles in effecting an established purpose, this is a quite different concept than the "pure democracy," against which Madison warned. The difference is between a method or procedure employed for choosing office holders, who will discharge the established functions or purpose of Government, and allowing an abuse of such procedure to arbitrarily alter that purpose, itself. The essential distinction is between procedural and substantive Democracy.
By procedural Democracy we mean a system that allows a popular electorate, however qualified, to elect office holders, who will discharge the accepted roles of office. In a Constitutional Republic, those roles have been previously determined by a written Constitution. By substantive Democracy, we refer to a system where the majority can change the very nature of the Government; can redefine the basic rights of the citizen; can impose its own notions of justice, property, the right to inherit, education, of right and wrong, on all of the people. The great plebiscites ratifying the new Communist or Nazi orders in Europe, between the World Wars, would be prime examples of substantive Democracy. Yet so, also, would be the system which turned Rhodesia into Zimbabwe; and so too what modern "Liberals" offer for the American future, with a Government no longer checked by the carefully planned strictures of the framers of our written Constitution.
The issues involved in universal suffrage have already been dealt with in Chapter 10. Still, while none of the Founding Fathers ever accepted the mindless assumption behind the Motor Voter Act, or favored a completely universal suffrage for all humans over eighteen; most were comfortable with some level of democratic procedure. But substantive Democracy--egalitarian majority rule, where numbers override principle, heritage and consanguinity--is something quite different. Having just risked everything in a Revolution against arbitrary Government, the very last thing they would have accepted, would have been an elective tyranny; a substantive Democracy, where the arbitrary decisions of a majority could overrule the clear precepts set forth in our fundamental documents.
The distinction, we make, between procedural and substantive "Democracy," is obviously more critical in some societies than in others. Ordinarily, that significance will closely reflect the degree of ethnic diversity or the extent of economic class disparity. It will be inversely proportionate to the extent of homogeneity; or in a diverse society or State, to the extent of perceived differences in wealth and influence. Thus a close knit society, such as that in one of the smaller Swiss Cantons, where everyone shares a common middle class lifestyle, with common traditions based on shared experiences among kith and kin, going back to the middle-ages, is a very different proposition than the United States today, or South Africa within the imperial borders discussed in detail in Chapter 22. On the other hand, the traditional Southern African Bantu Indaba--a form of tribal Democracy, where decisions are only reached after a thorough discussion, which continues (like that of a jury seeking a verdict in a criminal case) until there is no further dissent--represents a variety where the distinction between forms is far less crucial.
Of course, the reason why Democracy will be less dangerous in a land with a homogeneous population should be self-evident. Where there is a common identity, there will be less of a tendency, in Madison's language to sacrifice the weaker party, at least not on an ethnic basis, which would involve the destruction of cultural heritage. The problem with great differences in achievement levels, in a country with a multi-racial or multi-ethnic population, will be equally obvious. Again in Madison's language, such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property. While Madison may not have seen his carefully crafted Republic drifting into such a Democracy, the combination of an extended suffrage and modern demagoguery, probably made such trend inevitable.
For confirmation of the point, one need look no further, but again at, what is happening today in the once tranquil land of Rhodesia--now called Zimbabwe. There, those who built a modern nation have become the studied targets for the hatred and jealousy of the mob like supporters of a dictator, originally elected in a democratic election; one supervised by some of the most arrogant of the international champions of one man/ one vote "Democracy." (There is a now aging, but very sardonic joke among African Conservatives about overseas efforts to impose Western ideas of "Democracy" on African States with ethnically diverse populations: One man, one vote, one election!) For those who developed the infrastructure of Rhodesia, that reform--pushed by British and American Leftists--has meant terror, financial ruin and, for some, an early death.
The recent reelection triumph of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe was, admittedly, a staged event. Some of those who tried for an actually fair election died in the attempt. Yet Mugabe's original victory in 1980 was carefully supervised by international busybodies--a fatuous combination of Socialist theorists and the sort of pseudo-intellectual poseurs, who really believe that there is something fair about such a procedure: An election where distinct peoples with radically different heritages, cultures, values and levels of education, achievement and aptitude, never previously combined for any such common purpose, are suddenly thrown into the same electoral pot, for a counting of noses--or should we say marks--to ultimately determine the most vital rights and interests of each among them collectively.
The appeal of the "one man, one vote" concept to the Socialist egalitarian is obvious. It elevates the mob over the individual. For the same reason, it ought not to have much appeal to people with common sense, discerning tastes, family interests, personal or real property. However, an almost incessant rant about "Democracy"--whether as transcendent virtue, the essence of America or as the determinant for acceptability in a new family of nations--has created another of those stultifying mindsets of the current era. Almost no one today is even aware that, examined more closely, its assumed virtue is very far from obvious.
We suspect that there is another significant factor, which has both played into the hands of the great demagogues on the Left, who have seen in the concept of "rule by numbers," the key to personal power; a factor which has also tended to insulate prattling academics, who really believe in its virtue, from embarrassing questions in the classroom. The idea of an equality of persons is one that has appeal to many youth. It is in the nature of youth to test authority. Indeed, it is in a testing of authority in childhood, that we learn what we ought not to do in life and, in a round-about way, what is expected of us. Youth, while sometimes more observant, may yet be less discerning. This combination of factors can make an egalitarian presumption seem not only rational but even idealistic. Of course, it is neither.
Because youth is often more observant than age, and more flexible if awakened; this situation is reversible. Throw in the realization that egalitarianism is the new orthodoxy, and that tendency to test limits can work to the traditional Conservative's advantage. The idea that anyone, who doesn't really understand the duties of an office he is voting to fill, ought to have a say in changing the fundamental values of his Society--even to the extent of terminating the cultural achievements of hundreds of years--is not one that will bear serious examination. Nor is the concept of genocide for the tribe that does not wish to be absorbed, particularly appealing. Merely by correctly formulating the questions to be debated, we can begin to awaken rational thought in those who have been preconditioned for the Left.
Some "Liberal" voices in academia like to argue that there is no basic human right to property or inheritance; that such rights depend upon political sufferance, because the State is seen as being essential to protecting the one and effectuating the other. But this is but one more example of a confusion of method and purpose--of procedure and substance. It is indeed the principal functional role of any social order to protect the persons and property of the members of such Society. It might well be argued that providing general respect and effective protection for enjoying the fruit of individual labor--both present and accumulated from past endeavor--is the single most compelling fundament to the moral basis for a political society. Certainly, most threats to individual life, grow out of a disrespect for the privacy of property. Wealth is not created by the State or Society; rather the State and Society exist to a considerable extent to help in protecting its accumulation, and to demonstrate a common respect for individual rights therein.
To confuse the Police function--the protection of the legitimate rights of the individual living in an organized political society--with those rights themselves, epitomizes the intellectual dishonesty, which many on the academic Left display in promoting Socialist and egalitarian values. In such strained rationalizations, they discredit rather than advance their philosophic pursuits.
Men forge social compacts, which organize States and their citizens for the purpose of protecting individual lives and property. That protective role--the fundamental purpose of the Social compact--is a method by which individuals secure what is theirs. That method exists to serve the predetermined purpose. Those who would argue that the involvement of the State with property for this purpose, in this manner, somehow gives those administering Government a right to tamper with the property of others, for purposes outside the original compact, argue an absurdity. What they suggest is philosophic chaos and social anarchy, where those entrusted with public authority abuse a solemn trust. (Certainly the morality of those, who in a position of a fiduciary trust betray that trust, can be no better in Government than among those corrupt Corporate managers, who have lately demoralized the equity markets of the world. If anything, considering the gravity of the trust, it is even worse.)
And it is no different with the argument, often heard in the same circles, that the right to inherit family wealth is one conferred by a civil authority which could just as easily severely limit or eliminate it, altogether. In a provident Society, people work not for today alone but for the future; not for their own benefit, alone, but for their posterity. Inherent in the right to enjoy the fruits of one's labor is the right to pass those fruits on to one's descendants. The idea that the State, in establishing a legal mechanism to protect the transfer of assets at death, somehow confers a special benefit on the families of the wealthy--a benefit that it may legitimately limit;--springs from a completely distorted concept of the dynamics of what is actually involved.
Of course, the denial of an inherent right of inheritance tells us a great deal about the perspective of the denier. Anyone who can blithely assume a right in Society to simply appropriate the net residue of the fruits of a lifetime of endeavor--which is what that denial implies--rather than pass them on as the achiever desired or, in the absence of a Will, to his natural heirs; has made assumptions as to the nature of Society and the functions of Government, that are very different from the social compact addressed by Jefferson, with the approval of Franklin and Adams, in the Declaration of Independence. (We have discussed this further in Chapter 9.) To deny the natural right to inherit from one's ancestors, is to postulate a relationship between man and Society or man and the State, which is totally inconsistent with the concept of a continuing social compact voluntarily entered into; hence totally inconsistent with the idea of a Republic--a "thing of the people"--or even a legitimate Monarchy, based upon a volitional historic acceptance of a governing system or ruling order.
Yet, even if one wishes to deny the concept of a social compact, an agreement to be bound upon certain considerations for conceived benefits which would reflect what is sacred to the particular society; there is still no demonstration, even suggested, for any other basis on which Government may rationally operate with a moral claim upon its citizens or subjects. That Socialists covet a family's wealth can give them no basis to appropriate it, other than as plunderers acting under the supposition that might is the only right. The implication is that either the collective, or those in power over that collective, in effect own those subject to its power--not alone as subjects, but as a species of human property. Under such premises, the ultimate determinant for all relationships becomes the might of that collective; with all labor, as well as the past rewards for such labor, subject to and controlled by the indulgence of the moment.
The dichotomy, suggested by an attack on rights of inheritance, goes to the very essence of the conflict between the Western tradition and the Socialist challenge. Western culture, premised on free will, individual responsibility (in both the material and spiritual sense), respect and honor between the generations, and on setting aside a portion of one's bounty during the good years for the lean; attributes familial pursuits and responsibilities to a Natural Order, ordained by the Almighty as a function of Creation. It offers a coherent, rationally consistent system of beliefs, ultimately based upon the pursuit of truth, not as an end alone, but as a place of beginning.
Socialism, on the other hand, is founded not on a pursuit of original truth, but in the quest for a particular humanist end: For most, a more egalitarian World order. Thus the individual Socialist may not even perceive that his whole endeavor confuses what is substance and what procedure. In his infatuation with illusion, he may not even see how much of total human progress has been achieved through a provident desire to pass on something better to one's children. Few of those, persuaded to a redistribution of wealth and resources by the verbal flights of utopians, or the hate filled word games of the Marxists and others, have ever perceived that in implementing their fantasy, they are destroying the engine for all realistic future hope.
Consider Stalin's directed murder of seven to ten million Russian and Ukrainian free holders, and its enduring effect on Russian agriculture. The Socialist tyrant could terrorize soldiers during the War, to fight to the death for fear of what he would otherwise do to their families. Yet that brilliant, but ruthless, despot somehow never grasped the truth that no amount of coercion, no appeal to a collective spirit, could even remotely simulate the productive power of free landowners--each trying to achieve a better life for his own family--in agricultural workers, faced only with the bleak prospects in an egalitarian order. Thus despite many modern innovations in technology, some provided by the West, Soviet agriculture in the 1950s was far inferior to Czarist agriculture in 1913. (Based not upon any Western estimate, but on official Soviet statistics released by Chairman Kruschev in the years following Stalin's death.)
Public School systems in the United States have become subjects of great controversy. While much of this controversy involves questions of financing, jurisdiction, location and attendance, rather than questions of function; our focus in this Chapter will be largely limited to analysis of the purpose and methodology of instruction. That complex sub-issues will still remain, to complicate our intention to make important distinctions, should but add to the significance of such distinctions as we are able to make.
Clearly, in family oriented Western Society, the primary duty to educate children is parental. It is a function of the ongoing biological continuum of human life. Indeed, one might make a more general statement and refer to mammalian life. Most mammals spend at least some time training their young. That the methodology for other species may be more instinct driven than rational, cannot alter the manifest purpose. Between birth and independence, the mammalian parent has a primordial responsibility for whatever preparation is necessary for the life ahead.
When the State provides a system of publicly financed education, it does not thereby become a parent. To many, the single most offensive aspect of the Communist and Nazi wars on the reality of past human culture, was in their appropriation of the children. They turned the schools into centers for indoctrination, where the new Socialist value systems were imposed, and total loyalty to those values required, even to the point of requiring children to inform the authorities on the freer vision of their own parents. Yet, because some parents in the United States are not capable of instructing their own children in even the most basic, elementary school subjects, the perception of their basic responsibility for those children's education may be confused by the apparent necessity for a delegation of the procedures involved--in some cases, even a forced, involuntary, delegation. And under such conditions, obviously, the schools and not the parents will have to choose the course material for the necessary instruction.
Yet, while all of this is true; it does not shift the fundamental responsibility, only the procedure for carrying it out. If the school authorities exploit this procedural dependence, by seeking to go beyond the non-controversial basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography, etc., and to indoctrinate children with theoretic values antithetical to their parents' culture, they assume a role absolutely inconsistent with any idea that those parents possess the normal rights appertaining to citizens in a free republic. To be sure, it is a bit like the problem in defining "obscenity." There are many gray areas, where necessity may cause an apparent blurring of lines. But just as with "obscenity," where most people "know it when they see it," however ill defined; most people can recognize where fulfilling a duty in education ends, and indoctrination in some one else's social values begins.
The reality is that certain educational theorists do not want to be restrained, by even being forced to try to define boundaries, as to where school function ceases, and parental responsibility alone is proper. But that very reluctance should provide the clearest possible evidence that far more scrutiny, as to the methods and purpose of public education, is required.
The NEA is a giant interstate union/ lobby claiming to act on behalf of most American public school teachers. It is itself a promoter of curricula that emphasize more life adjustment than instruction in the basics. If the NEA and its members take the position that some parents are too dull to be allowed to instill traditional family values in their own children, they should be asked, how can they possibly justify universal suffrage in a Substantive Democracy? The NEA is part of a complex on the Left, which very definitely favors getting out the vote among Society's failures as a means for electing "Liberal" candidates. But it does not trust that same constituency to instruct their own children on issues involved in the Leftist pursuit of "diversity"--the code word for an undifferentiated humanity. Nor does it trust that constituency to teach their children how to respond to Homosexuality--presently one of the NEA's favorite causes. We need to put an intellectual spotlight on these fundamental contradictions.
In an essay entitled "The Big Truth" (below), we referred to an item in early May, 2002, concerning protests to the U.S. National Park Service over a decision to place the restored Liberty Bell at a site, which happened to be the location of the servants' quarters for the residence, selected by George Washington when he came to Philadelphia in 1789, to establish the Executive Branch of our Federal Government. Although the Park Service had refused to change the proposed placement, they had dignified the protest by promising to include prominent notice of the slavery issue on the site; the clear insinuation being that such notice would be in the form of a negative commentary on the presence of slave labor in Philadelphia. Since our beloved first President was the party responsible for that presence, the vicious implication was obvious.
While General Washington was no social reformer, it is well known that his Last Will and Testament freed the slaves at Mt. Vernon. He was certainly no advocate of an involuntary labor system. But that is not really relevant to the question here. No faction in America, today, advocates slave labor; and no person informed as to the character of Washington will see this deliberate distraction from an understanding of what was involved in setting up the Presidency, as right or fitting. Slavery was simply not a relevant issue in a rational assessment of that most significant Administration--distinguished by such superb rectitude in the President's personal conduct in Office, that it has given the Presidency much of its credibility ever since. Labor systems in 1789 varied from State to State and, by agreement, they were off the table as an issue in the political process. One should question the motives of those who seek to revise history to make them seem an issue in retrospect.
George Washington's correspondence in the early spring of 1789, as he prepared to go to Philadelphia to assume his official duties, reveals a deep and genuine concern for avoiding both ostentation and any unnecessary public expenditure. If Washington took personal servants with him, it was as a public service. In providing his own household staff, he saved the public the expense of funding one. For the Park Service, now, to make an issue of their servitude, in order to appease a group with an agenda for 2002, is not only to misconstrue that agency's own purpose as custodians and exhibitors of National Monuments. In applying their role in arranging public displays, manifestly intended for the purpose of honoring our heritage, in a manner that actually detracts from that purpose by disparaging that heritage, they are allowing themselves to be used by those who would demean the greatest American of us all, in order to undermine the principles for which he stood.
The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, grants Congress power To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes. This provision has been loosely referred to as the "Interstate Commerce Clause." Its function is obvious. It relates to trade, to the flow of goods between States, with foreign nations and with the Indians. It has nothing whatever to do with promoting anyone's idea of social reform. Yet it has been seized upon by demagogues, seeking to rationalize an extension of the powers actually granted, to turn the Federal Government into a vehicle for every crack-brained scheme to "reform" American Society that a favored interest or promotion saw as a solution to some problem, real or imagined, where no actual authority existed.
Here was essential methodology, created by the Founding Fathers for the purpose of promoting a great Commercial and Monetary Union among the several States, for the "General Welfare" of all Americans. The intended procedure was to grant Congress authority to remove bottlenecks to the flow of trade. But a lack of public perception for that purpose--in part a function of the unwillingness of politicians to discuss or even acknowledge the limitations on their own power--has allowed three generations of corrupt men to misuse power, granted to facilitate freedom, in order to do what they were never authorized to do, by restricting freedom; and the whole warp and weft of our system has been severely damaged in the process.
The Federal Government was not intended to replace the Police Power of the States--the power to protect the safety, health or morals of the people. Had it been given a role in these areas, the subject would surely have been addressed in our written Constitution. Yet by claiming power under the Commerce Clause to regulate not only actual commerce across State lines, but those who engaged in that commerce, or produced goods that others might purchase through that commerce, or had even the most remote peripheral relationship to such commerce; grasping politicians have stuck a Federal nose into everything from commerce between the sexes, to working conditions in purely local manufacturing, bargaining relations between employers and employees, the personal associations of same, what a farmer might grow for his own table, the age at which a boy or girl might go to work, the number of hours of employment, the dimensions of plumbing fixtures in people's homes, the tags on one's bedding, what a physician might prescribe for a patient, etc., ad nauseum.
If you would understand why so many Americans could simply smile lovingly at former President Clinton's proclivity for lying--how Hollywood could make a movie, starring John Travolta as a Clintonesque President with a heart of gold and a pathological tendency to lie for the sheer joy of the exercise--you need look no further than the application of the Commerce Clause over the past three generations. We have been conditioned to accept the lie as an element of statecraft. All that was required was a belief that the liar was seeking to solve a legitimate problem, and the method was forgiven. And yet the path to tyranny was always so paved. All of the great innovators of 20th Century despotism, Lenin, Hitler, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, believed that they were doing good; and, so believing, disdained the limitations found in the morality of other men. The Hitlerian or Clintonesque extension becomes easier with every lie accepted. We are on the path to self destruction in the name of "doing good."