Brad Miller

The Anti-Federalists foresaw the future

In True nature of the State on August 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Why are the Anti-Federalist papers not read more? Why are we always steered toward the Federalist papers? The answer is simple. The federalist papers even though they purport to limit the Federal Government are actually the foundation on which our current version of the Leviathan stands.

We are told our Constitution is the law of the land. But few people realize that was not always the case. The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States of America.

And even fewer people realize that the Articles of Confederation were just supposed to have been amended by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and that most citizens did not expect to have an entirely new document created. 

During the ratification process of the New Constitution two factions emerged: The  Federalists who were those who supported the Second Constitution and the Ant-Federalists who felt either that the second Constitution should not be ratified at all or that it should be ratified but only after it was amended to protect individual Liberty from the more powerful Federal Government it created.

The debates we are having today have their roots in the debates concerning the ratification of the Second Constitution. The Anti-Federalists argued that the new Powerful Centralized Federal Government would just take the place of the one they had just rebelled against. They feared that by having power centralized in a far off capitol individuals would have not be able to redress violations of their Natural Rights.

The Anti-Federalists foresaw  the possibility of massive growth of the Federal Government due to the vagueness of the welfare/commerce clauses. Today those who want to expand the State cite these two clauses most when arguing for more government intervention into the lives of individuals. “. Also they feared that the  vast court system, in particular the Supreme Court,  to be created under the Second Constitution would be a boon to lawyers and an enemy to liberty.

The Constitutional Convention was formed in response to the inadequacies of The Articles of Confederation. It may have been imperfect but what it did accomplish was to limit the power of the Federal Government to tax. That alone limited everything that the Federal Government could do. No matter what laws were passed it mattered not because it lacked the means to enforce them.

That would be the equivalent of the Federal Government enacting laws today that in reality would be mere suggestions to the citizenry.

You can take the argument even further and ask if The Articles of Confederation were in effect today  instead of our Second Constitution would the Federal Reserve Exist, would the Federal Income Tax exist, would the EPA, FDA, HomeLand Security exist and would the U.S. owe 15 trillion dollars in debt?  I think that is a fair question.

Our current Constitution is worshipped by some as a holy relic and every debate over a law boils down to if it is Constitutional or Not.  The intent of the Articles of Confederation and the Second Constitution was created to keep the Federal Government off the people’s back and allow them to live their lives as they saw fit. I believe the Articles of Confederation is a superior document in that regards and if every debate about a law boiled down to whether it was lawful according to the First Constitution of the United States than just about every law on the Federal Registrar would have to be thrown out.

We can only speculate on the society in which we would live in if the Constitutional Convention had stuck to its original mandate. In my opinion the Federal Government would have grown from its 1789 roots but it would be far smaller today. If are to reduce the size and scope of The Federal Government along the way to a Stateless Society we need to realize that a great attempt at limiting the central government was made with The Articles of Confederation , our  First Constitution.

Today more than every  we must be cognizant of the main reason why the Articles of Confederation were scrapped.In one word DEBT. 

State debt was the downfall of the Articles of Confederation. The States who couldn’t pay their revolutionary war debts wanted to shift the burden to the central government and in doing so have  the other states help pay it off. But under The Articles of Confederation the power to tax was only delegated to the States. The Federalists argued that the Federal Government needed the power to tax in order to pay down this debt. So their solution to the debt problem was to forcibly take from others and redistribute that wealth in order to pay off the liabilities of the less prosperous States. It was the first National Bailout.

Does that kind of thinking sound familiar. Having the more successful subsidise the less successful? This was the principle in which our Second Constitution was founded upon. So why are we surprised to see millions of citizens today looking to the Centralized Behemoth our U.S. Federal Government to steal from others to benefit them?

The entitlement plundering ideology of today is the logical out growth of the germ of the idea that was planted with the ratification of the Second Constitution. I’m not saying that the founders, except maybe Hamilton who was a proto-socialist, could have envisioned the world in which we live today. But it does not prevent us from looking back and tracing the journey on which we have traveled to arrive at the destination we are at today.

The whole process of how the Constitution was written and ratified reminds me of the current way lawmakers conduct themselves. They met in secret, exceed their original mandates, and then tell the nation that calamity will befall us all if their plans are not passed.That is exactly what happened at the Constitutional Convention.

The original mandate for the Constitutional Convention was to rework the Articles of Confederation. But instead they scrapped it and started over. That was the birth of Big Government in the United States. From there it grew year by year taking more liberty away from individuals and finally  growing bloated and belligerent into the authoritarian empire we have today.

All that being said the Second Constitution of the United States especially with the inclusion of the  Bill of Rights, which the Anti-Federalists forced to be added,  still does better than any other document (except the Articles of Confederation) to secure the Natural Rights of individuals and actually limit The Power of a Centralized Government. The concept that individuals rights came from God and not man first stated in the Declaration of Independence, was still embodied in the spirit of the Second Constitution. But even with the Second Constitution as the law of the Land we still suffer the violation of our Natural Rights on a daily basis.

One reason I believe this happensbecause those who love Liberty use the Constitutional/unconstitutional argument to no effect when it comes to debating the legality of a law. I think that is the weakest argument we can use to defend liberty against freedom stealing laws. Because  some could argue that the Second Constitution is unconstitutional because it violates the basic Natural Rights of individuals that it was designed to protect. Instead I believe we should always base our arguments on our Natural Inherent God Given rights to Life, Liberty, Property, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  

James Otis an import pre revolutionary figure wrote  ” A law against Natural Law is void”. That is the best argument I have heard to use in place of the ineffective and overused Unconstitutional Argument.

The Anti-Federalists were on the right track but it would take the likes of Lysander Spooner, Clarence Darrow, Albert Jay Nock and Murray Rothbard to recognize that the problem wasn’t merely the size and shape of the Federal Government but the problem was government itself.
I like them  advocate for a Stateless Society in which all transactions are voluntary and without external coercion.



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