"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
The Butchers, The Bakers and Candlestick Makers
I don't know how many of the 360 odd million people in the United States are currently babies, but it seems that everyone, including the diapered, have opinions about everything and sometimes it seems that few of those opinions ever agree with anyone else's.
The one thing that might yet find a large percentage of Americans in agreement would be that the Constitution is a good thing. Even people who have never read it and couldn't quote one line from it mainly agree that it is simply the best Constitution ever written. Politicians speak glowingly about it during campaign season, but conveniently forget a Constitution exists immediately after their acceptance speeches and unabashed oaths to uphold it are solemnly sworn. Thereafter, elected officials seem quite oblivious to the limitations it places upon them.
But why is it that whenever writers expound upon the founding of this nation, it generally appears that the only human beings who occupied the land were the men whose names appear on the founding documents?
Well, what about John Q. Public? Why is no equal time devoted to the founding butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and the guy who swept the stale sawdust out the local mercantile and slept in a room in the back? Had they no opinions? What about the merchants and sailors and spinners and tailors? And what about the people who were already in the new world when the old world moved in? Who asks what their opinions might have been? No one, that's who; and one wonders if future generations will one day look back and imagine that the United States was once comprised of George W. Bush and Congress.
One striking difference between then and now, of course, is that there are simply more people with opinions about more things and today those opinions all too often become law.
But have you ever wondered how heavily public opinion might have weighed in the drafting of the Constitution? The answer to that question is "not much," even though there existed, as always, incredibly accomplished thinkers among the great unwashed, wise men who predicted exactly how we would eventually arrive at where we are today.
Pulling musty old documents from the dank, dark recesses of time sometimes provides a number of shocks when the principles they address are applied to the world in which we now live. And even if you were to survive the initial shocks of old writings such as the Anti-Federalist papers, you would discover unexpected wisdom, though the thoughts contained within may well fly in the face of everything you implicitly believe to be good and just.
The anti-federalist papers, which have all but faded into obscurity, were penned by men who stood in opposition to the hasty ratification of the Constitution without public discussion or input. They wrote their opinions in anonymity for fear of ruined families, careers and finances. Now, we all can understand how such fear might be justified in today's environment but what, you might ask, could anyone have had to fear from our founding fathers, those giants among men who were the guiding lights who accepted the task of sitting down with paper and quill, to define exactly what "liberty and justice for all" means.
As it turns out, you don't have to delve far into the writings of the non-founders to discover that, indeed, there were people who rejected the lack of public representation in the convention that drew up the supreme law of the land. In the general introduction of the anti federalist papers, it is astounding to learn that the founders, who are so cherished today, were once referred to as an "aristocratick combination," men whose power was such that the use of correct names to protest their actions must be avoided. In other words, they feared a great deal.
And so it is that the general introduction to the Anti-Federalist papers appeared without credit in The Boston Gazette and Country Journal on November 26, 1787, naming the Constitution: A DANGEROUS PLAN OF BENEFIT ONLY TO THE "ARISTOCRATICK COMBINATION." Shockingly, it goes on to claim, 'They brand with infamy every man who is not as determined and zealous in its favor as themselves. They cry aloud the whole must be swallowed or none at all . . . .'
Now fast forward just over two centuries and consider, if you objected to the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq sans public debate and input, you were most likely subjected to a similar branding: 'You're either with us or you're against us.' Remember? "They cry aloud the whole must be swallowed' and non-zealots might consider using pen names if they wish to protest and remain untouched.
Another complaint from that early American testament to resistance states: 'They have strived to overawe or seduce printers to stifle and obstruct a free discussion, and have endeavored to hasten it to a decision before the people can duty reflect upon its properties.'
The butchers, bakers, etc. appear to have had a serious problem with the idea that they were being railroaded on a fast track. Again it is impossible to miss glaring similarities in the recent rush to war with Afghanistan and Iraq.
The events of 911 were sufficient to propel Americans into a hasty war against Afghanistan completely avoiding any necessity for evidence that such a war was justified. As we now know, the plans for this war were actually drawn up years prior to 911, (which was so arrogantly termed by the Planners for a New American Century PNAC, as "the New Pearl Harbor"). America was again 'hastened to a decision before the people could duly reflect upon its properties' and many thousands are losing their lives to our haste.
The wars against Afghanistan and Iraq did not require any particular overawe or seduction of printers to gain their support. Today's printers are major corporations fully dependent upon government licensure to conduct business. If one could even imagine the ownership of any major US media outlet today, which is not already an ardent supporter of war . . . any war, the owners are certainly well aware that defying the will of today's "aristocratick combination" can prove ruinous in the extreme. Extortion by the FCC in concert with the potential threat of devastating blacklisting has proven to be even more effective than mere seduction; and the corporate printing presses simply smoked with the gargantuan rush to war amid widespread popular protest.
The shock and awe of the initial bombing of Baghdad soon flashed images of death and destruction in flaming Technicolor on television screens across the planet as helpless millions underwent massive, heinous and sustained aerial bombardment by coalition forces. The shock of that shameful carnage had not yet subsided before it became stated policy that journalists refusing to self-censor about the horrors and terror of the savaged civilians would, themselves, be targeted by the coalition of the willing, and they were.
Returning now to yesteryear, 'In order to deceive them, they incessantly declare that none can discover any defect in the system but bankrupts who wish no government, and officers of the present government who fear to lose a part of their power.'
No government? Why, the very concept of no government is anathema for aristocrats when they are determined to create one. So, through timed press releases called the Federalist Papers 'They incessantly declared that none could find any defect in their system.' True, none could prove any defect and the nay sayers were ultimately silenced. But, in retrospect, just as they warned would happen, a republic was created, that soon devolved into a democracy that soon devolved into a mobocracy, which now passes law by decree and public opinion poll.
Today there are a multitude of theories regarding the attack against America floating in cyberspace and around the water cooler as concerned Americans discuss who perpetrated this attack and for what purpose. Conspiracy theories abound.
Meanwhile, no independent newspaper or investigator, on or offline has the means to find a provable "defect in the system" and blow the whistle. The whistles have found refuge behind carefully constructed "national security threat" barriers built by "the officers of the present government who fear to lose a part of their power."
These officers have employed deception and obfuscation to systematically bankrupt many who have demanded, and who continue to demand proof for a reason to prosecute these wars against sovereign nations. Charity funds are now arbitrarily confiscated without the accused being afforded the guaranteed benefit of facing their accusers in a courtroom. Hundreds of people, including citizens, have been imprisoned for months and years with no access to legal advocacy, or having legitimate charges of wrongdoing lodged against them and brought to speedy trial. Whole nations and organizations have seen their investments frozen and squandered.
One might ask, 'In whose name is this abomination of revenge being waged?' Very simply, it is those who, over a span of two centuries usurped and abrogated the supreme law set down by the founding fathers. We should have known. We were amply warned by nameless non-founders and even by a few named founders, that without constant vigilance by the people, the originators of the rule of law would be followed by latter day aristocrats and autocrats who would also 'fear to lose a part of their power' and who would stalk the hallowed halls of power wearing the hobnailed boots of raw power.
It remains to be seen if the unsung butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of old were as prescient in their conclusions as they were in predicting the long slow fall of the republic they had no part in conceiving.
The outcome, as set down by the prolific writers of the Anti-federalist papers leaves little doubt that on that November 26th of 1787, these wise and long un-remembered men were gazing into the far distant future when they opined: 'These zealous partisans may injure their own cause, and endanger the public tranquility by impeding a proper inquiry; the people may suspect the WHOLE to be a dangerous plan, from such COVERED and DESIGNING schemes to enforce it upon them . . . .'
What would they have said about Homeland Security and the Patriot Act?