Thoughts On The American Axis Of Despotism [Updated]
In April of 1776, John Adams set his thoughts down on how a free government should be constituted.
You can see in this document, a brilliant mind searching for an answer to the question: How best can a Sovereign People govern themselves?
In one section, Mr. Adams presents his case against such a government having all of it’s powers located in a single assembly of the people.
I think it important that we
head heed his wisdom in this second decade of the 21st Century because, for all intents and purposes, we live under a single assembly that, though still elected by us, does what it pleases according to it’s wants and whims and coordinates it’s schemes to an unprecedented degree.
Here in 2014, the Executive and the Legislative Branches are of one mind: Big Government is good, partnership between it and Big Business is good [aka: Corporatism; aka: Fascism], the Several States are to be treated as nothing more than administrative units of the national government [ie: provinces], and government at all levels has the ‘right’ to interfere in every aspect of the lives of it’s citizens. The Judicial Branch can be counted on in the majority of situations to go along with the other two Branches, but any independence it still shows is precarious, at best, so that it too will soon become a member of the Axis Of Despotism, serving happily alongside the other two Branches and with the Bureaucrats who now wield enormous Power And Control.
From John Adams’s essay:
A representation of the people in one assembly being obtained, a question arises whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body? I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose government is in one Assembly. My reasons for this opinion are as follow.
1. A single Assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual. Subject to fits of humour, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities of prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments: And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controlling power.
2. A single Assembly is apt to be avaricious, and in time will not scruple to exempt itself from burdens which it will lay, without compunction, on its constituents.
3. A single Assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual. This was one fault of the long parliament, but more remarkably of Holland, whose Assembly first voted themselves from annual to septennial, then for life, and after a course of years, that all vacancies happening by death, or otherwise, should be filled by themselves, without any application to constituents at all.
[Bob: 4. and 5 deal with the mechanics of such an arrangement and, therefore, are not relative to the present discussion.]
6. Because a single Assembly, possessed of all the powers of government, would make arbitrary laws for their own interest, execute all laws arbitrarily for their own interest, and adjudge all controversies in their own favour.
Sounds like our present state of government, does it not?
For any republican form of government to efficiently function* and survive the different branches must be truly separate – separate in ambitions, desires, and goals. There must always be present a certain tension in their dealings with each other. The only area where they can ever ally in a good, a desirable, and a Virtuous way is when they are in the act of preserving The Constitution from all enemies of it, both foreign and/or domestic.
When the various branches of a government cease to be in perpetual conflict with each other, when they join together in a mutual defensive and offensive alliance, then that government has become Tyrannical. It is no longer legitimate and, therefore, one is freed from the obligation to recognize it’s authority or obey it’s laws.
The present national government of The United States is just such a government.
UPDATE at 2025…
May I add the thoughts of Alexander Hamilton into the mix.
…When the first principles of civil society are violated, and the rights of a whole people are invaded, the common forms of municipal law are not to be regarded. Men may then betake themselves to the law of nature; and, if they but conform their actions, to that standard, all cavils against them, betray either ignorance or dishonesty. There are some events in society, to which human laws cannot extend; but when applied to them lose all their force and efficacy. In short, when human laws contradict or discountenance the means, which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws, and so become null and void.
An eternal Truth.
* By ‘efficiently function’ I mean, as John Adams wrote:
‘…the happiness of society is the end of government,
as all Divines and moral Philosophers will agree that
the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From
this principle it will follow, that the form of government,
which communicates ease, comfort, security, or in
one word happiness to the greatest number of persons,
and in the greatest degree, is the best‘.