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Fragment on Commercial Republic


I think we must look at the Constitution, technically speaking, as fundamentally a Hamiltonian-Madisonian document. This not merely because of these gentlemen's influence at the Philadelphia Convention, but because of the still more enduring influence of their work The Federalist.

Now, it is of course true that The Federalist has plenty to say, by way of illustration and reflection, on matters of wider interest than the technical features of the document it defended. I enjoy aggravating modern idealists by sharply pointing out how low an estimate of human decency Publius expresses in his writings. By no means can he be said to take a rosy view of all private enterprise. The Fall is a stark and staring thing to him, and in evidence above all in the mercenary instinct. This grittiness was surely the influence of Hamilton, who had a streak of pessimism in him; some of the first businessmen he met were slave traders in the Caribbean.

But how does Publius propose, in defense of the frame of government he devised, to answer this pulverizing fact human depravity? Well, since his direct purpose is confined to the frame he designed, the final answer to that question must be left to his allusions and suggestions, alongside the later writings and actions of the men who collaborated in his authorship. These were, after all, articles in the popular press set down with an expressed intent.

So, for the purposes of the The Federalist, we get a variety of arguments generally organized under the phrase “checks and balances,” which present a system where factionalism (depravity in political form) is obstructed by its very proliferation. There is the absolutely vital states-vs.-federal distinction, later weakened and broken down by SCOTUS encroachment. There is bicameralism, which shows its quality in comparison to the usual French unitary legislature. There is the combined energy and limitation of the Executive Branch (later, also, effaced or expanded, depending how you look at it, by court jurisprudence). There is the Electoral College, which further narrows a historically wide electorate. Etc.

What theory of civil association undergirded the teaching of The Federalist is a fascinating question, but in any case I do not think we should impute to Publius any naivety about what sort of faction would naturally rise to prominence as the nation prospers. Civic and religious associations, neighborhood councils, townhalls, guilds, societies and banquets — all the rest of the welter of middling institutions that Tocqueville taxonomized with such warmth — would always have their place, but only the commercial factions would unite interest with means on a national level. No doubt a great deal about the 21st century would surprise and even shock Publius, but the fact that a great American corporation long dedicated to the commercial promotion of “the progress of science and useful arts,” General Electric, would generate headlines and would exert considerable influence in the realm of politics, is not one of them.

The framework of thinking and working out constitutionalism set down by Publius is, in my opinion, rightly called a theory of commercial republic. It contrasts with the British system, where republicanism is grafted on to strong remnants of the modified ancient regime. It contrasts with the French system, where republicanism takes on an almost Roman or Rousseauian severity, and the people, having thrown down the crown, do not scruple to take on property as well. French democracy races off toward socialism, while British democracy retreats back, after the initial plunder of the Church, into the arms of a vague but perceptible traditionalism, ever reforming, ever compromising. But in America, the commercial interest itself becomes the bulwark of liberty. How this is accomplished is a complicated matter, which I have only sketched in very brief remarks; but I do think that its practical success bears out historically that a commercial republic is a workable form of government. Publius does not teach nonsense; he teaches that middle class democracy can successfully be made out of the striving and hard-working enterprisers from among the people, toiling under conditions of equality.

Comments (22)

Apropos of my argument in the prior thread, I would say the following: the commercial republic can be successful if and only if some means is found of checking the concentration of wealth, and thereby, of power; this can be achieved if and only if some Good beyond commercial success, and beyond the mere aggregation of individual material goods, can be found and recognized in law. Nothing is now more manifest than that we do not toil under conditions of equality, but of vast inequalities of every nature. The mere opposition of commercial faction to commercial faction does not generate this limiting principle, or Good. The supremacy of the economic must be checked and bridled by the non-economic, lest plutocracy be the end of republicanism.

If the 10th amendment were taken seriously, the mere fact that the commercial interests will exercise a lot of national clout wouldn't matter nearly as much. There would be no vastly powerful federal government for them to lobby or to harness the energies of in the service of getting special deals or what-have-you. It seems to me that the state vs. federal power balance would do a lot to prevent any private interest, including commercial interests, from having vast nationwide power by way of a reciprocal arrangement with the government.


Merely taking the 10th Amendment seriously would not solve the problem of the centralization of economic power. Back in the Gilded Age--when the principle of federalism was much more alive than it is today--many state legislatures were wholly-owned subsidiaries of the trusts and the railroads. That is where the Populist unrest on the Plains in the late 19th century came from. Many Populists, and later the Progressives, looked to the federal government and increased regulation in order to deal with the problem of economic centralization. Their solution was, of course, not really a solution, since it simply made it easier for moneyed interests to capture one federal regulatory agency than for the company to buy votes in 50 separate legislatures. Nevertheless, it remains true that federalism by itself was not able to solve the problem, and the Populists and Progressives were dealing with real problems of our commercial, and increasingly industrial, society.

I don't remember my Publius, but if "commercial republic" implies a polity whereby commerce is the chief organizing principle, then I'm quite sure that is something to be avoided.

... but only the commercial factions would unite interest with means on a national level.

And herein is our dilemma. Wealth is a necessary (but not sufficient) means to achieve many good public ends. And only commerce creates wealth. Therefore, good government must be a friend of commerce and economic enterprise. But if the commerce class is merely oriented towards amassing its own wealth, no invisible hand is going to make that work for the common good. Good government is therefore charged with restraining and directing the designs of commerce as needed, in accordance with some higher conception of the Good. Which is precisely what we, in America, lack and have always lacked. Commerce cannot be the chief organizing principle of a republic worth keeping.

Stephen's comment is most apposite, in that the trusts and railroads suborned quite a few state governments, often by simply dropping sacks of cash on the desks of legislators and judges; then, when populist movements resisted this corruption, and managed to enact legislation curtailing the political power and economic rents of the trusts, the latter appealed to the Supreme Court, which incorporated the Bill of Rights, via the Fourteenth Amendment, against the states. That is to say, an Amendment intended to secure the political and civil liberties of freed slaves was perverted into an instrument of the liberation of corporations from regulation. Once that transpired, the only option - the next turn of the dialectic - was Progressivism, and national-level regulation.

Also, it's notable that at the time of its founding the GOP was simultaneously strongly pro-business and in favor of a stronger, more active role for the federal government. The two things are by no means mutually exclusive.

Their solution was, of course, not really a solution, since it simply made it easier for moneyed interests to capture one federal regulatory agency than for the company to buy votes in 50 separate legislatures.

That was pretty much my point, though without knowing more I would probably quibble at the outright phrase "buy votes." But near enough. So it's still very much worthwhile to try to reduce federal power, from several different perspectives.


You say,

"...when populist movements resisted this corruption, and managed to enact legislation curtailing the political power and economic rents of the trusts, the latter appealed to the Supreme Court, which incorporated the Bill of Rights, via the Fourteenth Amendment, against the states. That is to say, an Amendment intended to secure the political and civil liberties of freed slaves was perverted into an instrument of the liberation of corporations from regulation."

Meanwhile, according to La Wik, the story is more complicated:


When I looked up the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. City of Chicago case it was hardly a case of a corporation wanting to be free of cumbersome regulation.

So I don't think your history is correct.

Jeff C.,

You say,

"Good government is therefore charged with restraining and directing the designs of commerce as needed, in accordance with some higher conception of the Good. Which is precisely what we, in America, lack and have always lacked."

I think this is too strong -- is it really true that we have always lacked a higher conception of the Good in America? I look around at some of the magnificent civic, cultural, and church buildings and parks here in Chicago and I see daily the evidence that this statement is too broad.

Uh, seriously?

I point to one narrative arc of a complex process - which arc is detailed quite nicely in Jack Beatty's The Age of Betrayal - but because there are other narrative arcs in the process and epoch, my arc doesn't exist, or is invalid? Because the part is not the whole, the part is unreal?

I think this is too strong -- is it really true that we have always lacked a higher conception of the Good in America? I look around at some of the magnificent civic, cultural, and church buildings and parks here in Chicago and I see daily the evidence that this statement is too broad.

Granted that the legislators, citizens, and organizers of this or that civic project may have a higher conception of the Good on that level. And that's a whole lot better than having a false conception of "good" on a wider level.

But we have lacked this higher conception of the Good as an organizing principle of the Republic, a purpose for which the Republic exists and to which the activities of commerce and government are, or ought to be, directed - as opposed to being a "commercial republic" in the sense I mentioned earlier (which may not be the sense intended by Hamilton/Madison or Paul Cella).

One contender for the title of America's Chief Organizing Principle, if it is not to be commerce, might be "the pursuit of happiness" - which wouldn't be so bad if our people had a common understanding of the nature of happiness and the conditions necessary to secure happiness. But instead we are a republic of third grade essays on "what America means to me" with no right or wrong answers.

but if "commercial republic" implies a polity whereby commerce is the chief organizing principle, then I'm quite sure that is something to be avoided

Jeff, I do not think that implication is detectable in Publius. "Chief organizing principle" is far too strong. Republicanism is the organizing principle: liberty under self-government by deliberation, persuasion and consent.

"Commercial" is a descriptor used to indicate the contrast between American and classical republicanism. The classical variety, and even many modern theories, presupposed that the commercial interest was a profound danger to the public square, the encroachment of which would spell certain doom. The classical school had lot of history behind it. Republican forms had historically worked in small, very tightly-bound communities. City-states with powerful honor codes, like Sparta. To introduce wide diversity, commercial endeavors, is to risk the subversion of that code, to lose the identity that binds citizen with citizen. Republic succumbs to anarchic factionalism. Warlordism and despotism ensue.

Since Publius was proposing republican forms for a huge, extensive and varied nation of many hundreds of communities, his innovation was to introduce the idea of liberty out of multiplicity through the federal system. It is doubtful that many European republicans expected his innovation to work.

So the commercial gets embraced into this machinery like any other community with an interest. Commercialism softens factionalism, substituting for warlords businessmen. The competition of interests and ambitions gets absorbed into the rough and tumble of politics. Recall how this discussion began, with my dilation on how martial valor evolved into enterprising excellence.

Thus I return again to the problem of plutocracy. When any commercial interest, now consolidated and centralized and indeed global in reach, grows in stature to such an extent that the federal system's careful checks are overwhelmed, plutocracy threatens.

Folks have mentioned the Court's usurpations. It unquestionably a very serious problem, perhaps the most serious threat to the republican form, to self-government in America. On the one hand substantive due process has allowed the law to privilege one corporate form of "personhood" while narrowing the liberty of underprivileged (so to speak) corporate forms. Churches cannot refuse their facilities for homosexual marriages but Goldman Sach's immunities shelter countless charlatans and GE is taxed at a lower rate than me. The Court has assumed the office of legislator and made a mess of things. This judicial usurpation has the potential to be fatal to American liberty.

I've made a couple attempts to sketch out my understanding of America's Chief Organizing Principle.

True Exceptionalism

There are related posts here at W4 as well.

The courts and also (which I would guess the anti-federalists might have anticipated) the federal Congress, aided and abetted by the courts. I believe it's Antonin Scalia who has pointed out the confusing nature of blaming "activism," as though the alternative is simply for the court to be inactive. As Scalia has argued, the real problem is not activism (as opposed to "passivism"?) but rather the wholesale abandonment of originalism. Sometimes the court needs to be active to rein in the federal Congress where it is going beyond its enumerated powers. Sometimes the court needs to spread its hands and say, "That's not unconstitutional, and it is up to the state (or federal) legislature to decide." The court doesn't seem to know properly when to take _either_ of these stances. And it's hardly unpredictable that the federal government (including all the unelected bureaus) will rush in wherever it is permitted. The process had begun at least during the FDR presidency--or at least it became blatant then.

This means that in a very real sense we no longer have the country Publius was recommending, the country he envisaged.

"This judicial usurpation has the potential to be fatal to American liberty."

And I think a strong case can be made that the expansion of the executive is deleterious as well.


The latest issue of City Journal has a delightful long essay by Myron Magnet about Madison:


A lot of the essay is a biographical sketch, but it also deals with Madison's ideas about republican government -- here is just a taste:

And out of all these writings and speeches, what theory of government emerges—and how much of that political theory grew out of Madison’s experience of the Convention itself?

The Virginia Plan, which outlined a federal government with an executive, a judiciary, and a bicameral legislature and sketched procedures for ratifying and amending the Constitution as well as admitting new states to the Union, proposed that the legislature assume all of the old Congress’s current powers, plus the authority “to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, . . . to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening . . . the articles of Union, and to call forth the force of the Union agst. any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof.” Strong stuff, this using force against citizens. It was one of Madison’s key ideas, and it rested, as all political theories must, on a psychological theory—a view of human nature—that he luminously set forth in Federalist 51.

“What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” he asked. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But they are not. In spite of that Lockean social contract they have made, men, under the power of their passions and their interests, sometimes break their pledge not to invade one another’s rights and property (and note that from the American Revolution’s first slogan, “Liberty, property and no stamps!” to the Continental Congress’s 1774 declaration of the colonists’ rights to “Life, liberty and property,” the Founders took the Lockean view that the protection of property is a key governmental charge). “What is the meaning of government?” Madison asked. “An institution to make people do their duty. A government leaving it to a man to do his duty, or not, as he pleases, would be a new species of government, or rather no government at all.”

Yet once a free people gives government the power to use force as the Framers were doing through the Constitution, a further problem arises. Men must administer that government, men with the same human nature as everyone else, often with its worst defects in abundance. What motives, after all, drive men to seek elective office? “1. ambition 2. personal interest. 3. public good. Unhappily the two first are proved by experience to be most prevalent.” Such men often have “interested views, contrary to the interest, and views, of their Constituents,” whom they easily hoodwink by masking their “base and selfish measures . . . by pretexts of public good and apparent expediency.” Since “power is of an encroaching nature,” Madison warned, “all men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” You can argue that “honesty is the best policy” or that considerations of reputation and religion ought to make officials behave virtuously, but experience shows that they don’t—and they especially don’t in large groups like legislatures, where “passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”

“In framing a government of men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” And here famed political theorist Baron de Montesquieu’s mechanism of checks and balances does its work, with power divided into many hands, and each branch of the federal government limiting and policing the power of all the others—very different from the old, unicameral Congress, which wielded executive as well as legislative authority. “Each department should have a will of its own,” Madison wrote, its officers as independent as possible from the other branches for their appointment and their salaries. To Montesquieu’s well-known theory, which Federalist 47 brilliantly parsed, Madison added a psychological wrinkle. Yes, politicians are ambitious, so the new Constitution will take advantage of what eighteenth-century psychology saw as the most fundamental of the passions. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” he wrote. “The interest of the man must be connected to the constitutional rights of the place.” By splitting the legislature into two independent branches elected differently, by ensuring that judges are independent by giving them lifetime tenure, and by arming the executive with a veto, the Constitution’s “constant aim is to divide and arrange the power of the several offices in such a manner that each may be a check on the other; that the private interest of every individual, may be a centinel over the public rights,” for every elected official will be dependent for his continued employment not on other officials but on the citizens who elected him.

Those citizens have interests and passions of their own, however; and despite the supreme value Madison placed on free, popular government, he knew from all his political experience that when a majority succumbs to such impulses, even free governments can wield power tyrannically. “As air is to fire,” freedom nourishes the interests and passions that can overwhelm reason and justice—even intellectual freedom, so precious to Madison. “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed,” which in turn—because man’s “opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other”—will nurture a multiplicity of passions: a “zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government,” for example, or “an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power.” As for the interests, a “distinction of property results from the very protection which a free Government gives to unequal faculties of acquiring it. There will be rich and poor; creditors and debtors; a landed interest, a monied interest, a mercantile interest.” Such differences, “sown in the nature of man,” inevitably will give rise to factions, which Madison defined as “a number of citizens . . . united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Once a faction amounts to a majority, tyranny threatens, as Madison explained in his greatest Federalist essay, No. 10. “The most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal division of property,” he argued. “Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society.” How does such factionalism breed oppression? “The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property, is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality, yet there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.” The poorer majority can wield a host of similar “improper or wicked” means to use state power unjustly to expropriate the richer minority of their property—which government exists to protect, not invade—including a rage “for paper money” (which, by debasing the currency, expropriates by inflation), “for an abolition of debts” (as Virginia tried to do by barring British creditors from suing debtors in its courts and as Shays’s Rebellion tried to accomplish by stopping mortgage foreclosures in Massachusetts just before the Constitutional Convention began), and even “for an equal division of property.”

The great challenge of constitution-making for a free people, Madison argued, is to “secure the public good, and private rights against the danger of such a faction” while preserving “the spirit and the form of popular government.” His solution entirely contradicted conventional wisdom, again derived from Montesquieu. The French philosopher had declared that democracies had to be small in area, so that citizens could gather for face-to-face deliberation—a view that caused some thoughtful Founders to oppose the Constitution on the grounds that a strong popular government over America was bound to decline into tyranny because of the country’s broad expanse.

On the contrary, Madison argued: history shows that small “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; . . . incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths.” That’s because the smaller the society, the fewer the interests it contains, and the easier for one of them to form a majority. The smallest democracies are the worst of all: only consider “the notorious factions and oppressions which take place in corporate towns limited as the opportunities are”—a reality that anyone will acknowledge who considers how today’s city councillors are generally more corrupt than congressmen, congressmen more corrupt than senators, and senators (probably) more corrupt than presidents. And, Madison would say, just look at the individual state governments.

The Constitution, by contrast, provides Americans with a form of government that has “no model on the face of the globe”—an extended republic. Its rationale is Madison’s great contribution to political theory and practice. Unlike a pure democracy, a republic delegates power to “a small number of citizens elected by the rest,” and the selection process aims to produce representatives “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” Since it’s easy for a handful of representatives to gather from great distances for lawmaking sessions, such a government can embrace a very large territory, which yields a further advantage. “Extend the sphere,” Madison argued, “and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens.” A multiplicity of competing interests—like the multiplicity of sects that kept Virginia from imposing a religious tax early in Madison’s political career—prevents a single interest from predominating. “We behold,” Madison triumphantly concluded, “a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.”

For all Madison’s worry that it was in man’s nature for passion and interest to overwhelm his reason and virtue—that man was a reasoning rather than a reasonable creature, given more to rationalizing than to rationality—he nevertheless believed that, while “there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires . . . circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify . . . esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.” If “there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government,” he wrote in Federalist 55, then only “the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring each other.”

That’s why he set such store by the Senate, which he idealistically envisioned as the “great anchor of the Government”—a “temperate and respectable body” of “enlightened citizens” who would “watch & check” the representatives, lest they err “from fickleness or passion” or even “betray their trust.” It would defend “the people against their own temporary errors and delusions” and against “the artful misrepresentations of interested men,” demagogues seducing citizens to “measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn,” he wrote in Federalist 63. “What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped, if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions. Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens, the hemlock on one day, and statues on the next.”

He recommended a Senate “so small, that a sensible degree of the praise or blame of public measures may be the portion of each individual,” and he thought senatorial terms should be long—nine years, he first suggested, before settling on six—so that each member’s “pride and consequence . . . may be sensibly incorporated with the reputation and prosperity of the community,” again mobilizing personal ambition in the public service. Long terms would also give senators “an oppy. of acquiring a competent knowledge of the public interests” and the chance to plan and carry out “a succession of well chosen and well connected measures, which have a gradual and perhaps unobserved operation,” unlike congressmen, whose two-year terms allow them to see only “one or two links in a chain of measures, on which the general welfare may essentially depend.” Without such a “stable institution,” there will be “mutability in the public councils” that will unsettle both commerce and foreign affairs. “What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce, when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?” Madison asked in Federalist 62.

In addition, Madison saw the Senate as the principal guardian of “the rights of property,” which should “be respected as well as personal rights in the choice of Rulers” because it “chiefly bears the burden of government & is so much an object of Legislation.” Since propertyless Americans will in time outnumber the Americans with land, capital, slaves, factories, ships, warehouses, and so on, the propertyless, he feared, “will either combine under the influence of their common situation: in which case, the rights of property and public liberty, will not be secure in their hands,” or else they will become the bought and paid-for “tools of opulence & ambition.” A safeguard, he thought, would be to make the right to vote for congressmen as wide as possible, while narrowing the right to vote for senators to the propertied. “Give all power to property, and the indigent will be oppressed. Give it to the latter and the effect may be transposed. Give a defensive share to each and each will be secure,” he concluded.

Paul, thank you for the patient explanation despite my interjecting myself late in the discussion. I need to get used to the terms you are using. In that sense a "commercial republic" is, as you say, an effective force for the restraint of factionalism when most every faction represents a commercial or economic interest. But the term is confusing because, in essence, we have become quite another kind of commercial republic, have we not? When I hear "commercial republic" I think of the apologists for Calvin Coolidge's much abused statement "the chief business of the American people is business".

By "organizing principle" I meant the end toward which any polity might be organized - "a core assumption from which everything else by proximity can derive a classification or a value". A republic is valuable insofar as it organizes things in the service of this or that principle. Our Chief Organizing Principle is therefore not our form of government itself, but its raison d'etre.

It seems to me that closest thing we have to declared national organizing principles are set forth in the Declaration and in the Preamble of the Constitution: the pursuit of happiness, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, the general welfare, the blessings of liberty - all very good things. Perhaps it is necessary, given the reality of pluralism, that these allow for wide interpretations and contain assumptions that need diligent unpacking. The founders were content merely to mention them rather than bind the government or its agents in a specific or accountable way. So, while they are rhetorically useful, they are much too weak to serve as a basis for reviving the foundations of our government and society.

I'm taking much too long to say that the United States lacks a formal, overt commitment to religious or metaphysical truth - to a principle that justifies our existence as a nation. Every nation has a purpose under God's heaven, and if we don't know what that is, if we don't acknowledge it before men, why should we continue on as such? Is it enough just to be exceptional, even if ours is an exceptionalism of realism and humility? Is it truly realism if we do not, then, confess what is real? (I need to carefully digest your essay before commenting further.)

but only the commercial factions would unite interest with means on a national level

I am with Jeff C. If you look at the 2 major factions, they certainly include commercial interests, but they are FAR from defined in terms of commercial interests as such. Republican and Democrat parties each harbor people who hold greatly dissimilar commercial attachments, and there are quite a few Dems who hold similar commercial interests as quite a few Repubs, and vice versa. Commercial AND social AND religious AND other sorts of interests constitute those factions. Lots of other national factions exist, like the Roman Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, etc. Many of these are not commercial as such.

Another possible meaning of "commercial republic" would be a government wherein commercial interests explicitly control the seats of government. Robert Heinlein wrote a story like that, I think: "my esteemed colleague, the representative of General Motors..." We certainly don't have that kind of republic yet.

Paul, I will have to read your other site later, no time now.

I don't know about Catholics anymore. Modern Republicanism was created by Protestantism. America's form of government and revolution was a carry over from the English Civil Wars and is mostly a product of Atheists; John Toland, Marchmont Needham, Harrington. Aren't Catholics supposed to be about the Old Order and upholding the Logos, called the natural law? America is a break from the natural law. Furthermore, commercialism is a sign of materialism. The Founding Fathers of America were all students of the Enlightenment and the Enlightenment really was Atheists.

Eric Nelson came out with a book called The Hebrew Republic, Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought. America's government is really a teaching from Jewish sources as well! So what are Catholics glorifying the American psuedo-republic for? Have you lost your minds and your bearing?

The Founding Fathers were not all enamored of the Enlightenment in equal degree, and many of them disagreed with certain Enlightenment thinkers precisely with respect to those ideas in which they rejected divine authority. In especial, the Founders did not base the concrete actions of the initiating of the Revolution or the Constitution in a rejection of God. Rather, most of these men saw in their actions a profound agreement with divine demands with respect to the civil order.

St. Robert Bellarmine, in De Laicis:

But in this place other matters should be noted. First, political power considered in general, not descending in particular to Monarchy, Aristocracy, or Democracy, comes directly from God alone; for this follows of necessity from the nature of man, since that nature comes from Him Who made it; besides, this power derives from the natural law, since it does not depend upon the consent of men; for, willing or unwilling, they must be ruled over by some one, unless they wish the human race to perish, which is against a primary instinct of nature. But natural law is Divine law, therefore, government was instituted by Divine law, and this seems to be the correct meaning of St. Paul when he says, “He that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” 66

Note, secondly, that this power resides, as in its subject, immediately in the whole state, for this power is by Divine law, but Divine law gives this power to no particular man, therefore Divine law gives this power to the collected body. Furthermore, in the absence of positive law, there is no good reason why, in a multitude of equals, one rather than another should dominate. Therefore, power belongs to the collected body. Finally, human society ought to be a perfect State, therefore, it should have the power to preserve itself, hence, to punish disturbers of the peace, etc.

Note, in the third place, that, by the same natural law, this power is delegated by the multitude to one or several, for the State cannot of itself exercise this power, therefore, it is held to delegate it to some individual, or to several, and this authority of rulers considered thus in general is both by natural law and by Divine law, nor could the entire human race assembled together decree the opposite, that is, that there should be neither rulers nor leaders.

Note, in the fourth place, that individual forms of government in specific instances derive from the law of nations, not from the natural law, for, as is evident, it depends on the consent of the people to decide whether kings, or consuls, or other magistrates are to be established in authority over them; and, if there be legitimate cause, the people can change a kingdom into an aristocracy, or an aristocracy into a democracy, and vice versa, as we read was done in Rome.

Note, in the fifth place, that it follows from what has been said that this power in specific instances comes indeed from God, but through the medium of human wisdom and choice, as do all other things which pertain to the law of nations. For the law of nations is a sort of conclusion drawn from the natural law by human reason; 67 from which are inferred two differences between the political and the Ecclesiastical power, one in view of the subject, for political power resides in the people, and Ecclesiastical power in the individual, as it were immediately in the subject (on whom it devolves); the other difference is in view of the efficient cause, because political power considered in general is by Divine law, but considered in particular it is by the law of nations. Ecclesiastical power, however, considered from every point of view, is by Divine law, and immediately from God.

Some of the works of St. Robert Bellarmine were found in the libraries of Jefferson and Madison. It is not unjust to suppose that they borrowed from Bellarmine as well as from Enlightenment sources.

If I remember my Aristotle right, the Good forms of Government consisted of Monarchy, Aristocracy and a Politiea which is Mixed Government. Mixed Government is a Republic, i.e. The Spartan Republic and the Roman Republic. Both of these exhibited Mixed government and both started under Kings!

Democracy is the Bad form of politiea. This got convulted in the Renaissance and in the Enlightenment with the formation of Democratic Republicanism which is Modern Republicanism. It is really just Democracy.

Democracy does not and can not follow the natural law! Absolutely not. One of the principles of the Laws of Nature is the principle of Righteousness which dictates that only one thing is dedicated to do one thing. It is found in Xenophon where he writes, "...and nature willingly teaches righteousness". Democracy does NOT have righteousness, does not practice righteousness and therefore can not have the Natural Law (or Laws of Nature). Democracy is a bad form of government, always will be. And the celebration and glorification of America is sadly misplaced. Americanism has to be condemned in all of its facets. Americanism is a heresy. It is a Judeo/Masonic construct. It has nothing to do with the Natural Order or the Old Order. Democratic republicanism is an oxymoron. And let me remind people that Thomas Jefferson was a Socianist! All so-called deists were! And that included with it Spinozist materialism, that Nature/God were the same thing!

Reminds me of Sam's song about Tom's nuncle Tim.

Are we forgetting Thomas Jefferson and his agrarian stance? He said, "The Yeomen of America are not the Canaille of France". The difference Jefferson was pointing out was the Farming, agrarian, character of America. Thomas Jefferson specifically bought the Louisianna Purchase so that American families would have forty acres and a mule.

The Rule of Law is found only in Nature. Nature has Laws. Agrarianism fits humans, or gives them the concept of Laws. City do not. Plato made this point in his Laws. The citizens were to have one house in the city and the other in the country. The city was far removed from the coastline. The main business was Agrarianism.

Furthermore, Western culture and civilization is not built on "liberty" but on Order and the "care of the soul". This is part of the Graeco-Roman heritage that forms the basis of Western Culture. "Liberty" is a product of the Enlightenment, which destroyed Western culture. Liberty is not the end-all-be-all of government. Order and "care of the soul" is.

In Plato's Republic, Socrates states that "Where money is prized, Virtue is despised". Money drives out Virtue. Can't have a Republic without Virtue. Second, even Homer noticed "The Phonecians are all fine sailors, but they are all rogues". Meaning that commercialism, capitalism makes men into rogues. There is no 'fixing' capitalism.

All the republics of ancient antiquity were built by the citizen/soldier/farmer. That is the basis of classical republicanism. Rome degenerated after mercantilism came to the forefront of economics. The kyklos happened just as Socrates predicted; it was a republic, which devolved into a democracy c. 100 B.C. and the constant civil wars which devolved into a Tyranny when Julius Caesar seized the throne.

True republicanism can only be built upon the soldiering class and Agrarianism.

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