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Home | Wire | The Constitution Does What it Was Written To Do — Expand Government Power

The Constitution Does What it Was Written To Do — Expand Government Power

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Tags U.S. HistoryPolitical Theory

01/09/2018

A great many people — especially conservatives — reverence the Constitution, consider that it has been abused and that if only the doctrines expressed within were revived and respected, all would be well with America again.

This, of course, is a kind of children’s bedtime story — and approximates reality to about the same degree as the story of the Three Little Pigs.

The Constitution was peddled and imposed on us by men like Alexander Hamilton, a grasper after power who very openly loathed the ideas expressed by men like Jefferson in his Declaration (and even more so in his Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions).

Hamilton and his faction — they were called Federalists, which meant then what it means today — intended to create a centralized government on the British model, but without a hereditary monarch. The Bill of Rights was just barely added, in order to sooth the (rightly, as it turned out ) suspicious, such as George Mason of Virginia.

Patrick Henry smelled a rat.

At any rate, the fact remains that the Constitution was written with great calculation by lawyers — who are trained in and well understand the meaning and potential use of words — in such as way as to assure the expansion of federal power via (among other things) the purposely open-ended Commerce Clause and deliberately nebulous phrases such as “general welfare” that can be — and have been — interpreted to mean ... anything those who control the levers of the federal government wish it to mean.

Including — as actually happened during the Roosevelt Years — that a man farming on his own land whose produce never leaves his land let alone the state is nonetheless subject to federal regulation, because his actions “affect” Interstate Commerce.

In the same manner, Americans are forced to pay for other people’s retirement (and in their turn, forcing others to pay for theirs) and this is characterized as a “contribution.”

Regardless — the debate ought not to be over a piece of paper and what it does or does not legalize. A thing can be morally vile and entirely legal. The debate ought to be over the question of rights vs. conditional privileges. And whether the immoral can ever — rightfully — be lawful.

Does a man have an absolute right to be left in peace, so long as he himself is peaceful — or not? If not, then we do not have rights but conditional privileges, subject to modification at any time — and morality is merely a question of legality. In which case, the Israelis did Adolf Eichmann a grievous injustice when they hanged him for doing as German law required.

The Constitution is an immoral document. It explicates a litany of conditional privileges, subject to modification at any time. That this is done in an orderly manner, via “constitutionally” prescribed mechanisms, does not make the doing of it morally legitimate.

It merely legalizes it.

Theft remains theft.

Slavery, to whatever degree, remains slavery.

The Constitution articulates in flowery prose the means by which rights are to be suborned and transformed into conditional privileges; for example, the gauzy “will of the people” will be “represented” by a handful of actual people called politicians and bureaucrats and judges — whose opinions become binding on “the people.”

But this is lawyer-talk. There is no “people.” No single body, imbued with a single consciousness and — morally, the key point — unanimous in its feeling, capable of giving unanimous free consent to an action of the government. Without such unanimity and free consent you have the trampling of the will of individual people, which is contrary to their rights and which therefore can never be moral.

This idea that the otherwise immoral act — when performed freelance, by an individual — becomes not merely legal but moral when it is done via “representatives” of “the people” or via the false proxy of the ballot box is the despicable doctrine at the very core of the immoral Constitution and its intended subordination of the individual.

It is responsible for everything the authors of the thing intended — and what they intended was unlimited government. A government which may — in principle — do anything it likes, so long as it is done via “the people’s representatives” and after a vote on the matter.

Reprinted with permission of the author. 

Eric Peters is a freelance Anarcho-Libertarian writer, who uses cars and bikes as the vehicle for making the case for freedom and self-ownership. His books include Road Hogs (2011) and Automotive Atrocities (2004). He has written for The Washington Times, Detroit News and Free Press, Investors Business Daily, The American Spectator, National Review, The Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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