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Author Topic: The Narrative of the 'Free Republic'  (Read 1719 times)

hangman

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The Narrative of the 'Free Republic'
« on: April 23, 2008, 02:36:43 pm »

Here's a really good essay on hypocrisy and the founders. I have come to believe that the Revolution was about changing the name on the deed to the fruits of the labor of Americans. In other words,  they wanted to plunder us instead of continuing to let England plunder us. hangman

http://www.strike-the-root.com/81/molyneux/molyneux1.html

Early American Gangs and the Myth of Statehood

by Stefan Molyneux

Exclusive to STR

April 23, 2008

Separating facts from myths is always one of the greatest challenges when examining the past. In particular, narratives that benefit those in power are particularly resistant to rational examination, since they tend to be propagated among the impressionable and credible – particularly children, in the form of state “education.”

The history of the United States in particular has gone through an enormous amount of propagandistic revisionism, so that now the standard view of early American history tends to resemble more the slavishly pro-state “Pravda” palimpsests of the Stalinist era than a clear-eyed and rational assessment of past circumstances and events.

There remains at present a large constituency of Americans – often regarding themselves as libertarian – who look back with nostalgia to the founding of the Republic. In their mind’s eye, the late 18th Century was a noble era when the steely genius of the Founding Fathers forged in the fires of liberty precious documents designed to limit the power of the state over its citizens. These preternaturally wise philosopher-kings wafted above all human temptations for the exercise of power, remaining farseeing moral visionaries steeped in the humanism and rationality of the Enlightenment, keenly aware of the dangers of the state. These noble heroes led a people yearning for freedom to the revolution of 1776, overthrew an increasingly despotic foreign rule, and put in place a system designed to guarantee the liberty of individuals far into the future.

In this narrative, the founding of the American Republic was considered a watershed epoch in the history of humanity. Never before had a government been created according to rational and objective principles, with the express design of limiting its power, and forcing it to remain answerable to the citizens it served.

The slogans of the American Revolution have been carved into the lexicon of human fantasies about freedom – “all men are created equal,” “government by and for the people,” “conceived in liberty,” “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and so on. Early America was considered to be the highest achievement in the construction of a benevolent, wise, limited and regulated government.

Those who hold this view regard existing escalations of state power – particularly at the Federal level – to be fundamentally anti-American, and yearn for a return to an imaginary past where selfless heroes ran the government with the sole purpose of serving others.

On the other hand, certain historians – particularly leftists – have attempted to overthrow most of the supposed virtues of this period, repeatedly pointing out that early America enslaved nearly one sixth of its population, that under the cover of its Manifest Destiny doctrine the American government forcibly uprooted and exiled dozens of native tribes, that public hangings were a common form of entertainment, and that political bribery and corruption were endemic. In many ways, according to this version of history, the expansion of the United States at the expense of Mexicans and Native Americans was very similar to modern claims that China imposes on Tibet .

I view these opposing perspectives as a false dichotomy. In the “patriotic nostalgic” version, the evils of slavery and the forced relocations of native tribes and Mexicans are acknowledged as unfortunate but necessary political compromises required to create an initial union of disparate states. It is recognized that one of the original drafts of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” was “life, liberty and property,” but that the word “property” had to be removed because of its implicit repudiation of the concept of slavery – if all men can own property, no man can be property. Jefferson ’s own ambiguity with regards to slavery is usually referenced by quoting his words: “We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

The inability of the Founding Fathers to realize their own idealized visions of perfect and universal human equality is usually chalked up to the political realities of the time, and the ideological prejudices of those around them.

These two versions of history can be roughly characterized in the following manner: in the “patriotic nostalgic” view, the genuine political ideals of the Founding Fathers proved unachievable in practice due to the influence of history, and the collective self-interest of basic economic and political realities – particularly in the South.

In the “cynical leftist” view, the Founding Fathers crafted an idealized world out of their own lofty moral aspirations, while ignoring all those who were non-white, non-male, and often non-middle-class. In other words, Washington, Jefferson, Adams et al did in fact believe their goals of noble and political equality, but unconsciously limited its application to their own gender, class and race. The problem was that these men did not have any real conscious conception of “equality” for women, slaves, Native Americans, children and so on.

Thus while these men genuinely believed in “equality,” they were limited in their practical application of this ideal because they genuinely could not consider those unlike themselves as particularly human. The forced relocation of Native American tribes, for instance, was by any rational standard a far more egregious crime against humanity than, say, the minor indignity of the Stamp Tax, but because the Native Americans were not considered to be particularly human – at least not in the way that your average middle-class white male was – they could not be emotionally or conceptually “fitted” on the same moral spectrum.

To me, arguing whether the Founding Fathers were genuine idealists who bowed to political pragmatism, or genuine idealists tragically limited by the ethical perspectives of their time, entirely misses the point by assuming that they were “genuine idealists” of any kind whatsoever. /SNIP

« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 04:06:22 pm by hangman »
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