Sunday, October 24, 2010

Damned Socialist Founding Fathers

Earlier this week, I heard Virginia's Minister of Homophobic, Racist, You-Name-It Propaganda Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli talking about Virginia's law suit against "Obama," claiming, as usual, that, if health care reform is allowed to continue, America will be "crossing the line" where Congress will be able to force every citizen to purchase a consumer product. Later, his boss, Governor Bob "Il Douche" McDonnell further elaborated that Congress will be "crossing the line," taking over yet another duty that should be relegated to the states. And beneath all their ahistoric ramblings, you could just hear the whispered refrain, "Socialism ... Socialism ... Socialism ..."

Of course, once again, Republican analysis of American politics has absolutely nothing to do with their studying actual American history. Because, comrades, that dear Socialist line was crossed ages ago by none other than our Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Founding Fathers and signed into law by the Supreme Soviet himself, George Washington.

That dear moment of tyranny that threw the permanent pall of oppression and darkness occurred on May  8, 1792, when George Washington signed The Militia Act of 1792 into law. The Founding Fathers' paranoia over being invaded by one of the European powers was deep--almost palpable. So, in order to (what I can only imagine) strengthen the Second Amendment (you know ... "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.") , the Bolshevik vanguard of the American revolution allowed, with this law, the President to simply take over any given state's militia--or all of them--if he felt the country was somehow in danger.

Congress also mandated that every man aged 18-45 was automatically drafted into their respective state's militia. And, if that were not enough, Congress forced every man to purchase the necessary equipment to be a proper soldier in their militia:

That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.
As I've said before here, I simply don't believe that little inconveniences such as truth will hamper or in any way alter Republicans' views on what this country is about. They've got their ideology, and they're sticking to it--even if it's made up out of whole cloth. Hell, it won't even alter their message. They'll continue talking about "crossing the line" as though it's unprecedented even though that line was crossed at the very birth of this nation. They'll continue to scream "Socialism!" though it happened at the birth of "Liberalism." And there are so many of these ideologues in our justice system (especially in our Supreme Court), I'm not even sure that this legal precedent will even matter legally to our courts. I just thought some of you might like to know.


  1. Bill, Bill, Bill, Don't try and confuse them with fact and reality.
    My wife and I were talking this evening. . . they are scared trembling white people. Could anything be more pitiful?

  2. I have to say that I find it fascinating how both sides (especially the right, of course) appeal to the Founding Fathers when convenient, but assert that as a living document the Constitution changes and therefore the intent of the FFs doesn't matter when the beliefs of the FFs are inconvenient.

    It would seem, though, that here the Congress was mandating the individual ownership of firearms. And, it would seem, this act alone supports the assertion that the FFs saw "the Militia" as the whole of the people, which would, of course, be consistent with the Common Law they were used to living under, and would thereby suggest a particular meaning for that term in the Amendment.

    I'm just sayin'.

    Surely you don't intend to argue that the FFs would have agreed with single payer health care, or the individual mandate, on this basis?

  3. @SagHill--I wouldn't even dare try. I know that their "Says you" defense soundly trounces anything I, any historian, or even history itself has to say on any matter.

    @MJD--No, that was not my intention. I doubt the FFs could even comprehend going to a doctor whose cure would not as likely kill them as it might heal. So, I wouldn't even hazard a guess on how they'd feel about universal health care.

    Actually, I'm fairly certain that "the Militia" means exactly a militia--what we would probably consider the national guard today. I say this for several reasons:

    1) The Constitutional Convention was organized right after Shay's Rebellion. And the reason that that rebellion was as successful as it was was because the states mostly didn't have militias to thwart it and had to rely on the local rich guy to muster one. Here, I've written about it before:

    2) If I'm not mistaken, this law is also signed after our near and dear Whiskey Rebellion, where the militia issue arises again. I've read in some places that Washington himself led the army to squash--other places I heard it was Hamilton--so obviously, I'm not too sure on who led it.

    3) The Revolutionary Army during the war was basically filled with the dregs of society (and a shitload of free and enslaved blacks, btw) and didn't enjoy the popular support we imagine. In fact, the reason they camped at Valley Forge was because that area was the "breadbasket" of N. America at the time. The reason they starved was because local farmers refused to sell them food. Our army actually resorted to highway banditry to be fed, and farmers started sending their women in the hopes of not getting robbed by them.

    I'm guessing that their logic behind signing what is essentially a law to institute a draft was to avoid such lack of popular support if a future conflict arose.

    4) That same Revolutionary Army would've been crushed without the help of Russia, France, and other European powers who wanted to stick it to the Brits (France not only provided men, materiel, and loans, but they opened a second naval front in India, which forced the Brits to concede either America or India; we, of course, know which one they chose). Those same powers turned around and realized what a mistake they had made and they all pretty much started squawking about ending the American Experiment.

    Since our FFs were conflicted about the constitutionality of a standing army, I think state militias were meant to "stand in" for such an army in case an invasion was eminent (and they really did think one was). I think that's why they instituted this draft, wanting to professionalize some sort of army, make certain that they didn't suffer the same dissent and noncooperation that the Revolutionary Army did, and to be able to federalize those militias at a moment's notice.

    But that's just a guess.

  4. It would appear that we agree on the inscrutability of the FFs view of universal health care, and for at least some of the same reasons. (That comment was a rhetorical flourish anyway.)

    I read your post about Shay’s rebellion before, and indeed I reread it yesterday before I posted this because I remembered it. My understanding of the history does not support the connection between Shay’s Rebellion and the 2nd Amendment as much as yours does, or in the same way as yours, though of course I recognize that recent historical writers have made that connection. (While there may well be a direct connection for some FFs, to say that Shay’s Rebellion was the proximate cause for the creation of the Second Amendment is inaccurate; after all the FFs obviously believed in gun rights.) I have read enough of the Federalist papers and the speeches given by the FFs to understand that they were interested in ensuring that the people would always be armed, and that they were also intensely interested in assuring their citizens of this fact. It’s not possible to read what the big players amongst the FFs actually said and conclude that they didn’t believe in a right to individual ownership of arms. And of course the militia regulation you cited above reinforces that as well, since it compels individual ownership of arms.

    This debate, though, must really be as much about how much what the FFs intended matters to our time as about what they actually intended. The former is sadly under-debated in our modern politics in favor of the latter, where almost every assertion of the intent of the FFs is somehow distorted for political ends. That conversation would be far more entertaining over something cold and gold than it can ever be on a blog.

  5. Nice discussion, by the way. As usual.

  6. Yes, MJD, very nice. You believe in civil discourse and that's a rare thing on these here internets. I think there's a serious flaw in depending on the Federalist papers as a way of looking into what the FFs thought about governance, but, oddly enough, that's way too long and not developed enough for me to get into right here and now. Maybe I'll try blogging about it later. Who knows?

  7. {Imagine the United States is in a very deep crisis, comparable to that in Germany when the National Socialist party was founded, defeat in war, despised by the world, currency worthless, weak governmentt. What "strains and oppositions" in American culture might an emerging American Nazi party make use of? That is, how could such a party exploit some of these strains to get votes?

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  8. You imagine inside municipal discussion and that is an uncommon point upon these kinds of the following internets. I believe there exists a severe drawback inside with regards to the Federalist paperwork as an easy way associated with considering the FFs considered governing, yet, curiously, which is much too extended and never produced sufficient will be able to enter below now. Possibly I will test running a blog about this later on.

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