Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bill of Rights Merely Legitimizes Government

From nearly the beginning of this project, Carl has responded to various posts recommending that I read a particular article in a future issue that relates to the topic I’ve discussed.

Up to now I have not taken his advice. I had this idea that I wanted to read the issues in order, not only to learn more about the Voluntaryist viewpoint itself, but to also get a feel as to how this particular project moved forward, in and out of the historical context of recent decades.

Yet, just as Carl has tirelessly continued his work publishing The Voluntaryist, he continues to recommend upcoming articles. He’s been like that guy who knows what’s coming up in a movie, talking in my ear as I’m watching, “Oh Debbie, wait until you see this next part, it’s so cool!” (I’m sure you all visualize Carl as I do, jumping up and down in anticipation, wanting me to read on, right?)

"Thanks Carl," I say, "I’m sure it is, but I’ll see it when I get there."

Well, as anyone can see by the speed at which I am moving forward, it’s entirely possible I may not get there - unless I live to be about 124 according to my calculations.

So this time I decided to take him up on it and see how reading ahead works for me. I can still continue to read in order, but to not take advantage of Carl’s knowledge of what’s in future issues that could help us all get a clearer picture of a particular topic is kind of missing a main benefit to even doing this project. Besides, this project is called Debbie AND Carl.

In addition, Joe offered this comment on the same post (Is the Constitution Preventing Further Progress of Freedom?):

“Debbie, I think that the Constitution is first and foremost a political instrument. It's only the Bill of Rights that may be considered to be based on some philosophical truths, and even then it insists on maintaining statist doctrines such as eminent domain.”

So I went to the article in issue 101, published December 1999, and read “ ‘The Illusion is Liberty – The Reality is Leviathan’: A Voluntaryist Perspective on the Bill of Rights.”

Carl writes at the beginning of this article:
This article was sparked by an essay written by Forrest McDonald entitled "The Bill of Rights: Unnecessary and Pernicious," in which he presents the thesis (which he shares with some other historians) that the first ten amendments to the federal Constitution were essentially a legitimizing device used by those favoring a strong central government. In other words, many Americans who otherwise might not have supported the new central government were won over to it by the adoption of the Bill of Rights. Reading McDonald's article led me to review some of the history of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, of the conflict between the Federalists and their opponents, the Anti-Federalists, of the strategy adopted by the Federalists in urging the ratification of the Constitution, and to consider the ultimate significance of the Bill of Rights. Would we, as late 20th Century Americans, have been better or worse off' had the Bill of Rights never been adopted? What would American constitutional history look like if there had been no Bill of Rights? The purpose of this article is to examine these topics from a Voluntaryist perspective, and to decide what position the committed Voluntaryist would have taken during the struggle for the ratification of the Constitution and the adoption of the first ten amendments.

This article doesn’t give anything away about the publication that I just don't want to know yet and it is full of juicy tidbits for the brain to chew on. Here are just a few:

  • The Declaration of Independence was a statist document. (For an example, see page 1 of this article.)
  • Americans simply traded one state for another
  • The Federalists and Anti-Federalists were not arguing over whether there should be government to rule men, but only what form it should take.
  • There are several violations of individual rights contained in the Bill of Rights. (For examples, see page 5.)
  • The Bill of Rights has not protected American Citizens during some of the most critical times in our nation’s history. (For examples, see page 6.)
Now I’m going to be like that person who’s taking you to a movie I’ve seen before and encourage you to read ahead. Maybe you’ll reach a similar conclusion as Carl (I know I did.):

Constitutions and bills of rights are legitimizing tools of the ruling elite. Both are badges of slavery not liberty, and should be rejected. It is only when people awaken to these facts that they will become free.

1 comment:

Jim Wetzel said...

I certainly agree that the Bill of Rights is a bad deal, all the way around. Its "soothing syrup" effect helped people accept that which should not have been accepted; and it makes the theory of the document, as I understand it ("here's a short list of things the central government can do; anything else, it can't") incoherent. But then, as I get older, I find that the shine has pretty much come off the Founders; by and large, they were a collection of mercantilists who were bad writers and generally not nearly so bright as we're given to think.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what the constitution says, or doesn't say; the people with guns have no trouble ignoring it when it is, occasionally, inconvenient to them.