Ellis Washington
Symposium--federalists, anti-federalists and utilitarianism
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By Ellis Washington
March 7, 2015


Socrates (470-399 B.C.) was a famous Greek philosopher from Athens, who taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle, and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Socrates used a simple but cleverly profound method of teaching by asking revelatory, piercing questions. The Greeks called this form "dialectic" – starting from a thesis or question, then discussing ideas and moving back and forth between points of view to determine how well ideas stand up to critical review, with the ultimate principle of the dialogue being Veritas – Truth.

Characters:

Socrates

Federalists
(big government worldview similar to today's FDR Democrat Socialist Party) – George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, John Marshall

Anti-Federalists (small government worldview similar to today's Reagan Republican Party) – Samuel Adams, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Witherspoon

John Stuart Mill (Utilitarian worldview similar to today's Libertarian Party, Green Party and other assorted anarchist groups) – Rep. Ron Paul, Sen. Rand Paul

{Setting: Symposium of Socrates, Washington, D.C.}

Socrates: We are gathered here today at my Symposium to discuss three major schools of political philosophy that flourished in the nineteenth century and have descended to us in today's times, namely – Federalists, Anti-Federalists and Utilitarianism. The question of ultimate concern is this: Which of these three political worldviews makes the best form of government in modern times?

Alexander Hamilton: The Federalists are property owners, landed rich, merchants of the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states. Our political philosophy is that we are elitists and following Plato's ideas outlined in his Republic believe that our economic class to be the natural rulers to govern others not of our class. We believe in a powerful central government which should rule over the people whom we generally distrust to hold much power. We also favor a two-house legislature to further distance ourselves from the people. Our alliances are pro-British and anti-French. A large Republic is best.

Jefferson: We are Anti-Federalists. We are generally small farmers, shopkeepers and laborers. Our political philosophy believes in the decency of "the common man" and in participatory (not pure) democracy which we consider mob rule (mobocracy). We view elites as corrupt, duplicitous and sought to balance this flaw in human nature by ratifying the Constitution only if it is joined with a strong Bill of Rights to provide greater protection of individual natural rights, derivative of God, founded under natural law. We Anti-Federalists favor strong state governments (closer to the people) at the expense of the powers of the national government. We favor smaller electoral districts, frequent elections, referendum and recall and a unicameral legislature to provide for greater class and occupational representation. Our alliances are pro-French and anti-British. A small Republic is best.

J.S. Mill: Utilitarian philosophy believes in this credo – a good law, the right act or policy is that which provides the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. An individual who follows this worldview will think of the consequences of their acts and will make their choice or action on the one that reduces consequences, making a decision about what will bring about the greatest happiness to the most people (i.e., Greatest Happiness Principle).

Socrates: To review your initial worldviews: Federalists favor a strong U.S. Constitution, stresses the weakness of the Articles of Confederation and strong government needed to protect nation and solve domestic problems. Favors checks and balances, would protect against abuses and protection of property rights. Constitution is a bill of rights with limitations and reserved powers for the states; state constitutions already had protection in bills of rights. Is this a summary of your worldview?

Federalists: Yes, Socrates.

Socrates: The Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution and wanted strong state governments; feared a strong national government. They created a strong executive similar to a monarchy, wanted fewer limits on popular participation and a Bill of Rights to protect each person's God-given natural rights founded under natural law and to protect citizens against government. Is this a summary of your worldview?

Anti-Federalists: Yes, Socrates.

Socrates: The Utilitarians have historically established that sustainable development is an impossibility absent liberal use of the Greatest Happiness Principle. In order to achieve sustainability one must be able to manage the ultimate objectives of sustainable development – human welfare, life support systems and social equity. However, in past, partly due to our limited ability to think in 'systems,' managing all three has been difficult, but through the principle of utility this group has improved its ability to manage human welfare and life support, leaving social equity as an unresolved challenge today. The component of justice and equity is the most difficult portion of the sustainability puzzle, which is why Utilitarians learn about moral philosophy and ethics in the context of global change. It is important to understand and stay aware of the notions of justness, fairness and rights alive both in this course and throughout life. A Republic chosen by the majority is best. Is this a general summary of your worldview?

J.S. Mill: Yes, Socrates.

Socrates: Indeed, now that we have established the general parameters of each worldview, let us move to specific policy analyses. Let us begin with the Federalists and that singular statement made by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, namely the Federalist Papers. Here are several of the most important ones of the 85 essays published in the late 1700s.

Madison: Although I am often put in the Federalist camp, philosophically I am equally just as much an Anti-Federalist. I wrote Federalist No. 10, which is generally regarded as the most important of the 85 articles from a philosophical perspective. It discusses the means of preventing rule by majority factions and advocates a large, commercial Republic. Its complement, Federalist No. 14, affirms that the government of the United States shall always be a Republic (not a "Democracy" = mob rule), and concludes with a memorable defense of the constitutional and political creativity of the Federal Convention.

Hamilton: Indeed Socrates, I covered all three branches – legislative, executive and judicial. In Federalist No. 70, I presented the case for a one-man chief executive.

In Federalist No. 84, I make the case that there is no need to amend the Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights, insisting that the various provisions in the proposed Constitution protecting liberty amount to a "bill of rights." In Federalist No. 78, I laid the groundwork for the doctrine of judicial review whereby federal courts can review the constitutionality of federal legislation or executive acts.

Madison: In Federalist No. 39, I present a clear exposition of what has come to be called "Federalism" – a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units such as states, therefore in Federalist No. 51, I refined my arguments for checks and balances in an essay often quoted for its justification of government as "the greatest of all reflections on human nature." However, demagogues and historical revisionists forget that I said this in the context that, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." In other words, I contend that each branch of government must be as independent as possible from the members of the other two branches of government, and to stay independent, their separate branches of government must never trespass on the enumerated rights of the others. To achieve these objectives, I recommend that "the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department" is to empower each branch of government (or the leader of the department) to discourage challenges to encroach upon each branch of government.

Socrates: Since the Anti-Federalist didn't write an official Federalist Papers, perhaps it would be instructive for this dialogue for me to elucidate this worldview in the context of historical events? For example, Shays' Rebellion where Daniel Shays organized farmers throughout New England to protest legislation that increased taxes and required speedy debt-repayment. After the state legislature ignored the farmer's anti-tax demands, Shays and his armed militia (later enshrined in the Second Amendment in 1791) shut down the courts in Western Massachusetts in protest of government seized properties. I would call this an historical triumph of Anti-Federalists ideas over Federalists ideas. Shays rebellion came to a climax when Shays was defeated while trying to take over a federal arsenal of weapons in Springfield, Massachusetts on January 25, 1787. The political and historical lesson was clear: This rebellion confirmed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and persuaded many states of the need for a stronger central government, therefore on this historical point, Federalists ideas triumphed over Anti-Federalists ideas.

Nevertheless, in relation to sustainability, after observing centuries of utilitarian ideas applied to modern governments the Greatest Happiness Principle usually leads to minorities and minority groups getting hurt or discriminated against; their interests are not fulfilled by society, while the majority (for good or for evil) always triumphs in the end. Therefore, define for us how Utilitarianism relates to the modern world, particularly the difference between science and humanities?

J.S. Mill: With the natural and social world inextricably linked, it would make sense that the natural and social sciences work together. However, science has separated from humanities with this schism obvious in academics and the real-world today. This sort of dualism is easily seen in Universities today as it separates domains across its campus. So, what are the differences between science and humanities that may have fueled this division?

Science is objective and thus value-free. It searches for truth through employing the scientific method. Ken Wilbur, an American philosopher, states that science has only one validity claim or one notion of where you find wisdom and it is in the land of 'IT.' However, there are really multiple sources of wisdom and validity, which the field of Humanities discovers. Humanities focuses less on what is (science = positive statement), and more on what should be (humanities = normative), is highly value-laden.

Socrates: Let us hear the conclusion the matter. Of the three nineteenth century worldviews we examined today – Federalist, Anti-Federalist and Utilitarianism, which if any are the best for governance in modern times? Positive law is actually an outgrowth of the eighteenth century moral philosophy of utilitarianism, from which Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment philosophers derived their Positive law ideas. Positive law is actually an outgrowth of utilitarianism or the view that regards the consequences of an act as demonstrative of what is good or morally right. This idea was not as innovative as one may think. Three centuries before positivism began to be applied to law, the Italian political philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) coined the infamous phrase of political expediency: "the end justifies the means" in his famous treatise on political statecraft, The Prince (1513). Thus, Utilitarianism historically leads to anarchy and tyranny of the majority.

Since Progressives, Communists and Socialists today have removed God from the arena of ideas, we are left with Machiavelli's utilitarian nihilism – "the end justifies the means." These instrumental ideas are derivative of the Age of Enlightenment (1600-1800) and the rise of atheistic humanism which reached is grotesque apotheosis with the atheist genocide against Christianity and organized religion called The French Revolution (1789-99). Philosopher R.H. Popkin in analyzing the philosophy of relativism, a major tenant of humanism, wrote: "Man is the measure of all things," and . . . each man could be his own measure. . . Cannibalism, incest, and other practices considered taboo are just variant kinds of behavior, to be appreciated as acceptable in some cultures and not in others. . . . [Relativism] urges suspension of judgment about right or wrong . . ."

The intelligent and prophetic Framers understood that no matter how well they crafted the Constitution, despite the type of protections it incorporated, it would constantly be in danger of the abuses of political demagogues and lawless men who just refuse obey the wise council of Jefferson to "bind them [politicians and judges] down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." All of the Framers of the Constitution understood that history and human experience would educate their subsequent generations as to possible dangers and errors in the foundation of this Republic founded under Judeo-Christian traditions and in moral-based institutions that could be deconstructed overtime and even destroyed by lawless men – Liberals, Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Progressives, Anarchists, Evolution Atheists, RINO Republicans, etc... who never cease their secret treason to overthrow America from within. Therefore, the genius of the Framers provided specific systems for amending the Constitution to buttress those trouble spots – each time keeping in mind that maintaining the Republic was the greatest debt future generations would pay to the constitutional Framers. Thus, Federalists historically leads to liberalism, socialism, progressivism and tyranny of the minority.

Like the Loyalists of the 1700s and 1800s today's Communists, Socialists and Progressive have no respect for the Constitution or rule of law and have relentlessly deconstructed or destroyed to a degree thus making the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution virtually unrecognizable in modern times, and as a consequence, our liberty, our affluence and our very Republic are in a catatonic state of deterioration and in serious danger of complete annihilation absent a counter-revolution by strong men of principle, morality and history guided by God, the original intent of the Constitution, Natural Law and VERITAS (truth).

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on ideas from Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books of the Western World, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor-in-Chief (University of Chicago, 1952), Vol. 2, Chap. 20 – Education; Vol. 2, Chap. 26 – Family; Vol. 3, Chap. 65 – Opposition; Vol. 3, Chap 87 – Slavery; Vol. 43 – America State Papers; Federalists; J.S. Mill.


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Invitation for manuscripts

I am starting a new a program on my blog dedicated to giving young conservatives (ages 14-35) a regular place to display and publish their ideas called Socrates Corner. If you know of any young person who wants to publish their ideas on any subject, have them send their essay manuscripts to my email at ewashington@wnd.com.

© Ellis Washington

 

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Ellis Washington

Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review (1989) and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute (1992). Currently he is an adjunct professor of law at the National Paralegal College and the graduate school, National Jurisprudence University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, American History, Administrative Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Real Property, and Advanced Legal Writing, among many other subjects... (more)

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