“a standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.”
-James Madison, as quoted in
Elliot, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions, vol. 3, p. 381.
It’s not enough to denounce the Federalist faction. You have to understand why the Anti-Federalists were wiser (although they failed in the end).
Because centralization is cancer.
Regarding local self-government:
The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to perform best. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate. (Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Bergh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson)
Power between local and federal government:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former [federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce…The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State. (James Madison, Federalist Papers)
Federal Government Size:
The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants. (Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Bergh)
If the day should ever arrive (which God fobird!) when the people of the different parts of our country shall allow the local affairs to be administered by prefects sent from Washington, and when the self government of the states shall have been so far lost as that of the departments of France, or eve so closely limited as that of the counties of England-on that day the political career of the American people will have been robbed of its most interesting and valuable features, and the usefulness of this nation will be lamentably impaired. (John Fiske, The Critical Period of American History)
The Declaration of Independence was inspiring. The Articles of Confederation were inspiring. The Constitution was a death trap. It lasted for no more than the years between 1788 and 1861. Between 1861 and 1865 there was no American law but fanaticism. From 1865 to 1965 was the sort of America that William S. Lind likes, but John Bagot Glubb pointed to the years around 1900 as the zenith and everything after that as a decline. Currently, the corpse of the Constitution is being jerked around into unnatural poses.
Every so often, a federal worker tries to do his damn job and gets choked back into line by his superiors. Example:
Department of Homeland Security whistle-blower Philip Haney says he sought help from the House Homeland Security committee after he provided its members with pertinent information following the 2013 Boston bombing, but the committee refused to intervene when the Obama administration retaliated against Haney.
Instead, the committee sent him to an Obama administration official who was himself under investigation for covering up alleged corruption, Haney says.
Also relevant: influential judges want to discard the Constitution:
Every now and again, I try to imagine what a civil war in 21st century Murrica would look like.
I try to count up how many Murricans would fight for the central government and the bureaucracy, and how many would fight against them. Madison said “a standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen,” and I don’t think Madison ever envisioned any army like the internal army made up of the USA’s many internal police forces. If he could see it, I imagine that he would call it a standing army.
In fact, my mind boggles, and I can’t imagine such a thing in any detail, but I’ll summarize my few thoughts.
Here’s a recent report on the militarization of the USA:
The USA has a lot of uniformed cops and cop-like officials (e.g. Department of Agriculture enforcers with submachine guns).
The USA has a lot of rent-a-cop wanna-bes who would join the central state if it ever declared martial law.
The USA has a lot of authoritarian soldiers who would shred the Constitution and repress Murrican citizens if given half a chance.
The USA has several million obese, authoritarian, politically correct bureaucrats who hold down jobs such as “Executive Director of Podunk County Wellness and Emotional Inclusion.” These people are probably too obese and neurotic to take up arms, but they will be happy to shriek as loudly as they can to destroy the rule of law. Most of them probably have public debate skills like the woman shown below:
On the flip side, the USA has a lot of natural rebels, some of whom would rebel violently, and most of whom would keep their heads down and try to survive without obeying. There are, no doubt, some genuine Murrican survivalists with three guns and a healthy skepticism about any central government that tries to disarm anybody.
But don’t put too much faith in private gun ownership. The USA probably does have 100 million privately owned guns, but most of those are owned by fanatics who own ten guns. Those fanatics might very well want martial law because they want to be deputized to shoot the stinky hippies.
Here are the statistics that make my mind boggle. Don’t show them to Tom Chittum; he’ll get excited and write another book about how the USA is on the verge of another Civil War.
Statistics regarding gangs, soldiers, and federal employees: