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John Adams and the Democracy Suicides

No simple Form of Government, can possibly secure Men against the Violences of Power. Simple Monarchy will soon mold itself into Despotism, Aristocracy will soon commence an Oligarchy, and Democracy, will soon degenerate into an Anarchy, such an Anarchy that every Man will do what is right in his own Eyes, and no Mans life or Property or Reputation or Liberty will be secure and every one of these will soon mold itself into a system of subordination of all the moral Virtues, and Intellectual Abilities, all the Powers of Wealth, Beauty, Wit, and Science, to the wanton Pleasures, the capricious Will, and the execrable Cruelty of one or a very few. Adams Papers Digital Edition – Massachusetts Historical Society

From John Adams to John Taylor, 17 December 1814  I do not say that Democracy has been more pernicious, on the whole, and in the long run, than Monarchy or Aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as Aristocracy or Monarchy. But while it lasts it is more bloody than either…

When will Mankind listen to reason, to nature or to Revelation?…

Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes exhausts and murders itself. There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and nowhere appears in history. Those Passions are the same in all Men under all forms of Simple Government, and when unchecked, produce the same Effects of Fraud Violence and Cruelty. When clear Prospects are opened before Vanity, Pride, Avarice or Ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate Phylosophers and the most conscientious Moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves, Nations and large Bodies of Men, never.

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  • ghostsniper January 30, 2020, 10:37 AM

    “…when unchecked…”

    This has always been my MAIN gripe about the Constitution. It has no built in safeguards against corruption, even though in accordance with law even the most basic corporation (contract law) does. In the absence of safeguards the constitution is used as a sanctioned gateway to massive crime all the way up the ladder and beyond.

    You can look at any of the amendments and see many instances where safeguards against corruption and criminality are absent and malfeasance has rendered all of them little more than tools of the tyrant.

    If I “threaten” to kill you I have committed a crime, but if a politician (virgina governor) “threatens” to steal the tools you might use to protect yourself from me no crime has occurred. There is nothing on paper to prevent any politician or their helpers from damaging you in all ways.

    Some call the constitution a social contract but it cannot be because it is incomplete. I have signed thousands of business contracts over the decades and every single one of them had “performance” clauses stipulating consequences for behavior damaging to the contract. Any business contract written like the constitution would fail outright and no sane business person would ever choose to be a party to it and whoever drew it up would be out of business in short order. The only thing I find surprising about the constitution at this point is why it hasn’t already failed. I attribute that to the massive amount of criminality perpetrated by the gov’t body at large. It’s immeasurable.

  • Anonymous January 30, 2020, 6:47 PM

    The US Constitution was written for a moral, God fearing people. The framers all knew this and had doubts as to how long the Constitution would endure. I think they would be amazed at how long it has so far endured. Yes, it has many faults and ambiguous wording. Remember however, the framers were under tremendous pressure to get the Constitution ratified by the Colonies/States.

    We can look to the people, our ancestors and yes us, as being guilty of not holding our governing thugs to the fire for the on going trashing of the document. WE are the only possible defenders of the words and intents of the Constitution. Government is an entity on to its self. Government is not going to defend the document that is in place to control . . . government.

    The French people finally took action. Yes the French. We are over due for a similar *correction*.

  • Terry January 30, 2020, 6:49 PM

    Sorry, not Anonymous above. Me.

  • captflee January 30, 2020, 7:29 PM

    If you go by Glubb Pasha’s reckoning, the party’s just about over, based on expected lifespan.

    In my more cynical moments, I suspect that our constitution is pretty much operating as designed, given its dubious provenance. Not that anybody in a real position of power has been following it all that closely for at least the last 160 years, certainly not any clause therein limiting his/her accrual of power and/or wealth.

    Commenters to previous posts spoke of that estimable Catholic Englishman, the Marquess of Groppoli’s most famous aphorism regarding absolute power. Appended below, for your delectation, are bad, possibly criminal thoughts of his (one culled from his correspondence with perhaps the 21st century’s greatest bete noir other than Orange Man Bad), which may or may not be germane:

    “Without presuming to decide the purely legal question, on which it seems evident to me from Madison’s and Hamilton’s papers that the Fathers of the Constitution were not agreed, I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”

    “The spurious liberty of the United States is twice cursed, for it deceives those whom it attracts and those whom it repels. By exhibiting the spectacle of a people claiming to be free but whose love of freedom means hatred of inequality, jealousy of limitations to power, and reliance on the State as an instrument to mould as well as to control society, it calls on its admirers to hate aristocracy and teaches its adversaries to fear the people. The North has used the doctrines of Democracy to destroy self-government.”

  • Bunny January 31, 2020, 4:23 AM

    Re: Lord Acton again. My simple mind fails to comprehend how one can excuse slavery – think of it! the ownership of another human being as property – and then gas on about rights and liberty. “I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will…” That may be, but priorities! What is more absolute than the will of the slavemaster? My simple mind also fails to grasp how monarchy and aristocracy are preferable to democracy. “It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.” As a member of the elite, he would think that, wouldn’t he, even if he didn’t intend to do any oppressing? At least democracy provides less oppression for a greater number. Agreed, in North/South there was a conundrum of liberty, but what am I missing here? Oh, well, we are all slaves now anyway.