Madison's Republic

James Madison is not directly to blame for America's current situation. The Marxists (sec progs) are. Rather, he was responsible for making unfortunate modifications to Montesquieu's philosophy, which was -- although Spirit of the Laws was published in 1748 -- really just an explication of 17th century British political philosophy, applied to a new form of republicanism. In short, Montesquieu articulated a 17th century republicanism. Madison innovated an 18th century republicanism. (Marxism was a 19th century beast.)

Republicanism had been mostly dormant since its primordial versions failed in the ancient Greco-Roman world. Mostly, the world had given up on self-rule of either the direct form -- democracy -- or the indirect form -- republicanism -- deeming that it simply requires too much virtue out of its "rulers," the people, to be realistic. One of the few items upon which all Federalists, all Antifederalists, and Montesquieu himself agreed was that representative government required a religious, vigilant people whose foremost interest be the pursuit of the private and public good. (This sounds foreboding to an epicurean American culture whose dominant interests include recreational sex, celebrity minutiae, technology shopping, and dilettante cuisine.)

But in the long span between the imperial turn of Rome and the American Revolution, there did exist a few thriving exceptions of republicanism, footnotes to most history texts: the partly mythic Anglo-Saxon system of pre-Norman self-rule from the sixth to the eleventh century; the Venetian Republic which existed from the seventh to almost the nineteenth century; the Swiss cantons were republics dating back to the defeat of Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian in 1499 and yet existing today. And these exceptions explicitly informed the arguments of Antifederalists like George Mason and Patrick Henry at the Richmond ratification debate of 1788: Look, Madison, they said, if kept sufficiently small, univocal, and virtuously peopled, republicanism will thrive. But only if...

Republicanism had a new chance in the Framing era, especially given Montesquieu's political philosophy's nuances in Spirit of the Laws. Whereas the ancient republics were necessitated (by their direct governance) to be mere city-states, modern theories of representation allowed geographic expansion to the size of small nation-states. Republics, Montesquieu admonishes, still cannot become huge, but representation allows them to be bigger than mere cities. Moreover, the three-branch innovation by Montesquieu streamlined republican due process (especially if the three branches are hermetically sealed off, as the last article discussed) so as to increase efficiency.

Thus, we see that the Montesquieuan limitations on republicanism were anything but arbitrary. Rather, they informed Montesquieu of republicanism's evolution over the course of two millennia, with all its cautionary examples.

And so, with a little more background, we see that Madison's modification of Montesquieu seems a bit more flippant. It modified a workable 17th Century political philosophy into a wholly new, experimental 18th Century political philosophy.

Montesquieu's 17th century form required small, tightly knit nation-states wrought of religious and moral solidarity. Madison's 18th century form -- relying on his innovations such as the Senate, factional nullification (as discussed in the last article), and "balancing of power" among the branches -- allowed a large, scattered, divided, irreligious republic to form without the consequences predicted by the Montesquieuan Antifederalists. Or so Madison thought.

These problems just took a while to show up, on account of the solid foundation of classical republicanism not taken out of the mix. But show up they did.

Our current American problems are attributable to the overnationalization of Madison's 18th Century theory combined with the cross-fertilization of 19th Century theory: redistributive Marxism. And in the 20th Century, Madison and Marx mixed. Even though Madison, Hamilton, et al. would never have willingly endorsed redistributivism, they nevertheless endorsed a national government big enough to effectuate it. Whereas the American 19th century bore witness to a sort of playing out of the Madisonian-Montesquieuan hybrid (explaining both the Civil War and the robust states' rights which survived that long), the 20th shoved Montesquieu out, with Marx replacing him. Thus far into the 21st Century -- after eight years of enormously central governing by Bush and in the fifth year of the Obama nightmare -- it appears that Madison has been pushed out. All we see is a descent into outright Marxism.

And that much is not Madison's fault, as some of the first article's commentors mistook.

Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment, a.k.a. the "new Constitution," is not Madison's fault. It was ratified nearly a century after the Framing (illegally... individual research on this point is merited). In Madison's federal system carefully balanced between two sovereigns, state and national, any additional imposition on either side changes the entire field. And the Fourteenth was structured substantially to debilitate state governments. Out of it grew both the doctrine of incorporation, which now enforced the Bill of Rights against the states as well as the Fed, and the outrageously unconstitutional doctrine of substantive due process, which allows federal judges to construe non-enumerated individual new rights from the idea of "due process" and to enforce them against the States. In short, the Fourteenth Amendment allows much of the original Constitution with its procedural commitments to be surpassed in the name of "substantive rights." Hence, the "new Constitution." Behold the brave, new, post-procedural world of the Fourteenth Amendment, the American Marxist's best friend.

And true to the Marxist form, federal judges have "constructed" rights only ascribable to its favorite children.

The American Constitutional story is a sad one, cut short prematurely by American sec progs and Marxists on the judge's bench. But the entire point of this glance at history -- in danger of being missed when one only discusses the Left's hand in it -- is to express that the sec progs only had occasion to alter the Constitution by the permission of the Constitution itself. Saying such a thing is not quite the same, but not altogether different, from uttering the unassailable idea (as all the popular talk radio conservatives do) that Progressives were the ones who molested and changed the Constitutional order.

Of course they were. But moving beyond the November defeat -- which is the goal after all -- one does well to honestly apprise the specific clauses in the Constitution which allowed such a molestation. So that they can be changed back, in one fashion or another.

This is, sadly, where the popular conservatives get off board. Several commentors on the first article asked: "What is the point?" The point is to cease talking -- to borrow some Lord of the Rings imagery -- as if Sauron is close to getting the Ring of Power, sometime in the near future. They insist on pushing the horizon further and further away, ever and anon. No, the responsibility of the present is already upon conservatives and libertarians to retrieve the true meaning of the Constitution. Sauron has had the ring since the Wilsonian Progressive era. First, we examine the Constitution for mistakes not to repeat. Then, we effectuate the plan. One way or another, the Montesquieuan possibility of liberty and federal governance is retrievable. God willing. 

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