Is the Constitution Sound?

Progressive merchants of ideas stab the German troops in the back in World War One

Progressive merchants of ideas stab the German troops in the back in World War One

Your secretary begins this post by quoting the very spirit of the Enlightenment, he who woke I. Kant from his quote dogmatic slumbers unquote, David Hume. The book I have is an early twentieth-century reprint, the gift of the Class of 1920-something to the Library of Northeastern University [where my father graduated, in 1928; he notes buying the book, second-hand in 1952]. Hume’s essay, “That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science” has on its final page the paragraph

I would employ the same tactics to moderate the zeal of those who defend the [prime minister; original, ‘minister’]. Is our Constitution so excellent?

— then a change of ministry [that is, change of government] can be no such dreadful event; since it is essential to such a constitution, in every ministry,[in every government,] both to preserve itself from violation, and to prevent all enormities in the administration [of said government].

Is our Constitution very bad?

— then so extraordinary a jealousy and apprehension, on account of changes, is ill placed;

and a man should no more be anxious in this case, than a husband who had married a woman from the stews [the neighborhoods tolerating prostitution] should be watchful to prevent her infidelity.

Public affairs, in such a government, must necessarily go to confusion, by whatever hands they are conducted; and the zeal of patriots is in that case much less requisite than the patience and submission of philosophers.

The virtue and good intention of Cato and Brutus are highly laudable; but to what purpose did their zeal serve? Only to hasten the final period of the Roman [republican] government, and render its convulsions and dying agonies more violent and painful.

where the final (highly debatable) assertion is taken as if obvious to all who know anything about the matter. It is a rhetorical device, perhaps something I were able to name were I still teaching for a living.

As an aside to the Grant High School junior who is likely to be reading this, the need to insert the word “republic” into the last sentence can serve as a means of demonstrating the definition of the word “republic” in action. The Republic was not “one-man-one-vote,” nor was the vote honest when Caesar became consul. But if by some means that is performed in public, power is transferred to the delegated authority, then that’s a republic. Absent that, the power is transferred and confirmed privately, as in (let us say, for example) the Russian autocracy.

But to the point brought forward by the Good David, before he went ahead and misrepresented republican martyrs. We are now obviously in a period when the Constitution, whatever its merits once upon a time, is a more or less dead letter.

Mister Hume has a very valid argument, that in such a case the government of the day is going to come to a bad end.

That is the official position of the Cascadia Chapter of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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