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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Progressive Militia

It always stymies me trying to figure out the basic philosophy a to what constitute liberalism and conservatism. Before the whole issue of "the means of production" came along in the 19th century, liberalism described the concept of self-rule, and that the government was accountable to the people, not the other way around. That's what the Constitution of the U.S. is based on. Somewhere along the line the corporations and robber barons had their say.

So what about the Progressive Militia...? This blog is named after the pseudonym of the authors of The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison & Jay. It is in these newspaper entries that they lay down the basis of the Constitution. One thing they made quite clear was that the freedom to bear arms was there, in large part for the people to defend themselves against our own bad government.

Alexander Hamilton wrote:
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state.... The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them. The natural strength of the people in a large community, in proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is greater than in a small, and of course more competent to a struggle with the attempts of the government to establish a tyranny. But in a confederacy the people, without exaggeration, may be said to be entirely the masters of their own fate. Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized! Projects of usurpation cannot be masked under pretenses so likely to escape the penetration of select bodies of men, as of the people at large. The legislatures will have better means of information. They can discover the danger at a distance; and possessing all the organs of civil power, and the confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the community. They can readily communicate with each other in the different States, and unite their common forces for the protection of their common liberty.

We should recollect that the extent of the military force must, at all events, be regulated by the resources of the country. For a long time to come, it will not be possible to maintain a large army; and as the means of doing this increase, the population and natural strength of the community will proportionally increase. When will the time arrive that the federal government can raise and maintain an army capable of erecting a despotism over the great body of the people of an immense empire, who are in a situation, through the medium of their State governments, to take measures for their own defense, with all the celerity, regularity, and system of independent nations? The apprehension may be considered as a disease, for which there can be found no cure in the resources of argument and reasoning.

PUBLIUS. (Alexander Hamilton)

These guys were good. the best. They were so good that the small minds of politicians have been trying to dismantle what they put together ever since. Again, the militia was intended to protect us from our own bad government. That's as liberal as it gets.