Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Declaration of Independence is of no consequence

In one of his speeches titled "What is Progress?", Woodrow Wilson said the following:
Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for freedom that is going on today.

The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in the circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; not a theory for government, but a program of action. Unless we can translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge.

As you read this, keep in mind that Wilson was the guy who wrote that "nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual", the Declaration of Independence is the document which enshrines all of this "nonsense" as a foundational bedrock. But if that isn't enough, Wilson also stated that "If you want to understand the real Declaration, do not repeat the preface.". The "preface" is where all of the important stuff is at. Unalienable, god given rights. That "nonsense". Knowing that helps to put all of this into context. (Other parts of the Declaration while very important are not at issue here.)

As he continues, he attempts to re-define "tyranny":

What form does the contest between tyranny and freedom take to-day? What is the special form of tyranny we now fight? How does it endanger the rights of the people, and what do we mean to do in order to make our contest against it effectual? What are to be the items of our new declaration of independence?

By tyranny, as we now fight it, we mean control of the law, of legislation and adjudication, by organizations which do not represent the people, by means which are private and selfish. We mean, specifically, the conduct of our affairs and the shaping of our legislation in the interest of special bodies of capital and those who organize their use. We mean the alliance, for this purpose, of political machines with selfish business. We mean the exploitation of the people by legal and political means. We have seen many governments under these influences cease to be representative governments, cease to be governments representative of the people, and become governments representative of special interests, controlled by machines, which in their turn are not controlled by the people.

What he's getting at is plutocracy.(or oligarchy, the two are similar) But he goes too far in that he doesn't include himself in the equation. He was very sly in his wording(see what I bolded and italicized in the last paragraph) about control by small groups of individuals.

Wilson believed in control by a small group of individuals. He believed that administration needed to be separated away from politics, as Goodnow believed. He believed that "Administration cannot wait upon legislation", that it "must be given leave, or take it, to proceed without specific warrant in giving effect to the characteristic life of the State".

Just do it. If the people object? Oh well. If the congress objects? Oh well. If the courts object? Oh well. This gets at his wording, he says "by special bodies of capital" - what he means is that it's ok for central planners to be academics. It's ok for central planners to be unaccountable to the people, as long as they aren't rich. That's the wrong kind of small body of special interests, but we are the right type of small body of special interests.

What Wilson appears to never have considered, is that documents like the Declaration and the Constitution were designed specifically to put a halt to men like Woodrow Wilson. The declaration does mention the questions of Wilson's day, he just didn't like what he heard. He would often times go around re-defining anything 1 2 that didn't fit his worldview, to advance the statist agenda.

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