March 12, 2015
Michael is among the many good thinkers you’ll find around here!
One of the paradoxes of political power in America is that the Constitution has no authority (see Lysander Spooner), but at the same time the Constitution confers almost unlimited authority on Congress. Yes, there is a third view. There are those who insist that the Constitution limits authority when interpreted according to its original meaning. They claim that nearly every law passed by Congress is unconstitutional. They hope for a restoration of original meaning, but the fact is that the golden age of limited government under the Constitution began to be shredded the first day that the Congress convened and it’s been downhill ever since. Adherence to the original meaning of the Constitution diminishes all the time. Evolution applied to this process of degradation has its own metaphysic.
The actual situation today is the paradoxical one. The Constitution lacks authority yet confers immense authority in practice. There are more than enough phrases, clauses and loopholes in the Constitution and more than enough interpretations of the powers granted to support almost any action that the Congress votes to take. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t limit government power, it supports it.
This is one powerful reason why the Constitution should be ended and the Union dissolved.
Nowadays, to say that some act is unconstitutional barely registers. It barely causes a ripple, because almost everything is permitted and almost everyone sits back and accepts it. There is little that anyone can do to prevent the mythical unconstitutional actions from continuing.
Congress recently voted in the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014. It “States that it is U.S. policy to assist the government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to deter the government of the Russian Federation from further destabilizing and invading Ukraine and other independent countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.”
Under this act, the U.S. is applying sanctions against Russia, supplying Ukraine with military arms and deploying U.S. soldiers to Ukraine to train Ukrainians to fight. The Constitution permits this, even though the same Constitution lacks all authority.
Just over 51 years ago, on January 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It declared war between the United States and North Vietnam. Even the golden-agers have to admit that the Constitution allows this power. Spoonerites will dissent.
Causes of war and justifications are always easy to concoct. Quite a lot of the language in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution could be lifted and applied to Ukraine. Much of it already has among those fervent utopians who dream of world peace and freedom through never-ending war. In 1964, the other side is accused of aggression, an aggression by the way that never took place. A U.S. naval historian writes in 2008
“But once-classified documents and tapes released in the past several years, combined with previously uncovered facts, make clear that high government officials distorted facts and deceived the American public about events that led to full U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.”
Much in the same way, today the U.S. and the media speak of a Russian aggression that never took place. The U.S. proclaims that it intends to “assist” the peoples of Southeast Asia. Today it claims to assist Ukraine. In 1964, the U.S. insists it has no other ambitions. This could not be believed then and it cannot be believed today regarding Ukraine.
Another paradox is that American government is stable and enduring, while at the same time continually becoming more and more unlimited. It endures both because it is powerful and because Americans accept it, another paradox.
The reasons why it becomes more and more unlimited are of great importance, but they are largely beyond the scope of this blog. I will only say that the will to power is built into the foundation of the state. Americans have a dream of sovereignty over all. This is a temptation that Christ rejected, but America’s leaders embrace. America’s leaders are driving for a universal or global significance, above all others. The American state wishes to be a church that oversees everyone’s soul and conscience. It wishes to be a legalistic secular church, abounding with laws, and leaving no breathing space for a dynamical creativity and the uncaused freedom potential inside every person. The notion of democracies everywhere and the end of history signify a stasis, a teleological end that is inconsistent with real freedom whose outcomes are beyond control by a state. The same drive toward universal stasis occurs in the fixation on security, stability and fixed territorial boundaries. There is an underlying fear of freedom beneath these quests.